Glorifying God Together
505 Courtney Way, Lafayette, CO
Kyle Petersen

Kyle Petersen

This is our next installment in a series of blog posts about SCC's core commitments. 

Here at SCC, we believe in a plurality of pastors, who lead the church as Christ’s under-shepherds. In other words, we have a team of multiple pastors. Let’s look to the Bible to see what a pastor is, and then discuss why we hold to a plurality view.

 

What is a Pastor?

Let’s look at and read Titus 1:5. Paul left Titus in Crete, and gave Titus some pretty specific instructions for his time in Crete; specifically, to “put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town.” So Titus was tasked to put the things that remained into order. We see that among those things, and probably the most significant of them, was to appoint elders in every town.

 

So what does it mean to appoint elders? First let’s talk about what an elder is. Unfortunately, the connotations surrounding the term elder are so convoluted and unbiblical in our day that it is almost impossible to have the biblical definition really stick in our minds. Many of us might think of elders as a board of lay-elders who make decisions and are separate from “the pastor” of a church. This is unbiblical. Still others of us might think elders are advisors, executives, directors, or guys on a committee. None of these really gets the biblical idea of an elder correctly. But we all need to get the biblical definition in our minds so that we understand what our leadership is supposed to be doing, and what it is not supposed to be doing.

 

So what is an elder? The word elder in Titus 1:5 is the Greek word “presbuteros.” Sometimes it was used to simply refer to those who are older in age, but it was also used to refer to leaders, especially in the Jewish community at the time. As you read the New Testament, you’ll see this word used to refer to specific men who were appointed leaders of local churches. In this context in Titus, it is clear that we are looking at a specific leadership office.  

 

Ok, that doesn’t really tell us a whole lot. How do elders relate to those that the Bible calls overseers? How do they relate to pastors? What is the difference? Is there a difference? I want to take you through a couple of verses that will help us answer these questions.

 

First, take a look at Titus 1:7. As Paul is giving the character qualifications required for elders, he refers to them as “overseers.” It is very clear here that he is talking about the same guys he just referred to as elders. So elders and overseers are one and the same. The titles might emphasize different aspects of the leader’s role, but they are the same.

 

Turn forward a few books to 1 Peter 5:1-3: “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”

 

In this passage we have three terms all used to describe the elders. The first one is obvious. Peter exhorts the elders, which is the same word as in Titus 1:5. Second, he tells them that their primary duty is toshepherd the flock of God. This is pastoral language (pastor means shepherd). Third, he uses a verb form of overseer as a participle when he calls them to exercise oversight. So according to this passage, these men are elders, overseers, and pastors. Another important aspect of this passage is that pastors are not to lead in a domineering way, but are to be servant-leaders like Jesus was.

 

So the answer to the question of how elders relate to pastors and overseers is simply that they are one and the same. These are three different ways to describe the same office. If we discarded using the term “elder” and started calling our elders “pastors” (even those who are unpaid or who don’t preach every week) we would be entirely biblical in doing so, and it might even help clear up the definition in our minds as to what these guys are supposed to be doing. The work of pastors is teaching, protecting, leading, caring, and overseeing. Any man appointed to this office is a pastor in the biblical sense of the word. We need to remember that our elders are our pastors, whether on staff or not.

 

Now we understand basically what an elder is, now let’s talk about what it means to appoint them. In Titus 1:5, this word, translated “appoint” in every major English translation, basically means “to put in place,” or "set in charge." Appoint is a good word choice. It simply means to put a man into this position of leadership. Another important aspect of this word is that it does not carry any special religious connotations. So there is nothing priestly or clerical in being appointed to the office of an elder, and in fact, the word “ordain” and its surrounding connotations are foreign to New Testament church leadership.

 

So our Pastors are not priests. They are guys who have been appointed to a specific office to serve and lead the church in specific ways. They aren’t holier than the rest of us. They aren’t better than everyone else. They have particular gifts from the Holy Spirit to be used in the church just like everyone else. Most importantly, they are our brothers in Christ, appointed for our spiritual benefit as they teach us, pray for us, care for us, and lead us.

 

Why a Team of Pastors?

Now let’s talk about what I mentioned above about a plurality of Pastors. In Titus 1:5, Paul tells Titus to appoint pastors in every town . One thing we can see here is that there was clearly a church in each town on the island of Crete, and each one was to have its own leadership.

 

Also notice that “pastors” is plural here. Titus is to appoint more than one elder in each town. Each church in Crete was to have at least two brothers who would be appointed to the ministry of a pastor.

 

If you look at Acts 15, and Acts 20, you will see that both in Jerusalem and in Ephesus, there were more than one pastor. The first verse of Philippians indicates that the same was true in Philippi. This was the form of leadership that the early church utilized. It was a plurality of pastors, all working together to care for, protect, teach, and lead the local church.

 

While one or more of these men might be paid because they labor specifically in the word of God to teach in depth on Sunday mornings, others are men who are not paid. But when it comes to their calling as pastors, they are all elders appointed by the church for this ministry.

 

We need to grasp the idea of a plurality of pastors. We need to understand that our pastors will be focused on functioning and working together as a unified team. We need to clarify our thinking when it comes to this issue. We need to remember that there is not just one single man who is designated as “the pastor.” This is not biblical, unless we are talking about Jesus. All of our Pastors serve together as a team of under-shepherds of Jesus. The Pastors will differ in gifting, but they are all equal in their calling and authority, and their authority comes from God and His Word, not from their title. The Pastors are all mutually accountable to one another and to the members of the church.

 

This is why SCC does not have a position called “Senior Pastor” or “Lead Pastor.” We believe that this standard leadership model heaps many unbiblical expectations on one man, and that it conveys many unbiblical ideas to the body as well. It can result in significant damage to the man in the position and to the church as well.

 

Pastoral Oversight and Leadership 

We read a couple passages which indicated that pastors are also overseers. In other words, they oversee the church as a whole and lead it forward in obedience to God’s Word. When it comes to decisions for the church, the final decision rests in the hands of the Pastors, who must unanimously agree.

 

While SCC does not have traditional congregational voting in its polity, we do have something similar. When a significant decision faces the church, the Pastors will ask for congregational feedback from everyone, indicating what they think the church should do in a given situation. The pastors take this feedback very seriously and will speak with anyone who is urging against a given decision before moving forward. Again, like we saw in 1 Peter 5, pastoral leadership is not to be domineering, but sacrificial and caring. As the Pastors seek to obey God in this calling, the members of the church should seek to support and submit to the God-given leaders of the church, while knowing that the Pastors are always willing to talk and hear concerns that members may have. 

 

What about You?

If you're still with me, thank you for taking the time to read this. I'll conclude with this: we hold to a plurality of pastors here at SCC because it seems to best reflect the biblical model. Additionally, it provides a number of other benefits. It makes caring for the people in the church more feasible, because no one man can truly shepherd an entire church, even one our size. It can help prevent abuses of power in leadership. We believe it also helps to protect the most visible pastor, the preaching pastor, from feeling like he must shoulder all the responsibility and the work of pastoral ministry. Let me encourage you to consider your own view of what a pastor is and evaluate it in light of the Scriptures referenced above. How can you support your pastors in the serious work that they do? You could start by praying for them, and taking a look at and applying Hebrews 13:17.

 

One final question I'd ask you to consider: How have you let the larger American evangelical culture's perspective of pastoral leadership to influence your view of your pastors? Do you see the most visible pastor as more of a CEO than a shepherd? Do you find yourself only wanting to speak with the preaching pastor about issues you have? Do you expect him to do everything? Do you see the other pastors as "second-rate," or ill-equipped to help you? Do you ever consider going to a less visible pastor with something you need instead of the preaching pastor? Consider how growing in these areas might be a huge blessing to the church body as a whole, and to your pastors as well.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 23:09

SCC Core Commitments: God-Centered Worship

A continuation of a series devoted to explaining some of the foundational commitments of our church.

Today in broader evangelical culture, a lot of what is called worship by churches would better be described as "performance." In some cases, the worship leader's face is even shown on large screens as they "lead" worship. At SCC, we believe and strive to convey that congregational worship is not a performance, but in fact is a time intended to lift every heart and mind up to God and His glory, both in who He is and what He has done for us. The worship service is first and foremost a time to glorify and exalt God.

Songs that we sing are chosen with this in mind. The way the Word is preached takes this into account as we gather to hear from the living God in the exposition of His Word. We give of our finances ultimately as an offering of worship to Him. We celebrate the Lord's Supper in obedience to Him and as a means of remembrance of Him.

The worship of the church should be a continual reminder of how glorious God is, how unworthy and sinful we are, how amazing the grace of God given to us in Jesus Christ is, and how much we continually need Him for all things. As our minds are set on these truths, our hearts will be lifted up in worship of the great and glorious God who created and saved us. Our souls will be satisfied in a lasting way that no performance could ever provide.

SCC strives for God-centered worship for the glory of God and for the good of His people.

Thursday, 05 December 2013 22:03

Our Serpent-Crushing Savior

I came across another great text that affirms the truth we studied during last Sunday's sermon, located here. The point I made in the sermon regarding Jesus' death and resurrection was that the death of Jesus Christ commenced and ensured the final defeat of Satan

 
Here's another awesome verse that highlights that so well for us:
 
Hebrews 2:14-15: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
 
All glory to our serpent-crushing Savior! 
Friday, 18 October 2013 17:42

What is Worship?

If you had to define it in one or two sentences and capture the biblical essence of the word, what would you say?

Here's my stab at it, taken from SCC's philosophy of Worship Ministry:

The most common term in the Old Testament for “worship” is sahah, which means “to prostrate oneself” or “bow down” in reverence to God. The New Testament however, gives a much broader picture of worship from proskuneo, which means “to do reverence to” (see John 4:21-24), to latreuo, which most naturally means “to serve”, but is also used to refer to “worship” (Philippians 3:3).

It is important to understand that there is no clearly defined, definition of “worship” in all of Scripture, but Scripture as a whole does give us a very full picture of what the worship of God involves. In general, worship could be defined as the expression of glad, humble, and wholehearted submission to God, in response to His greatness, His salvation, and His promises. Another way of saying this would be: Worship is always a response to the actions and attributes of God in spirit and truth.

Whoops, I cheated and used 2 definitions; I couldn't help it! The point in these definitions is that worship is not confined to one particular activity (singing, giving, prayer, service, etc.), but is at its very foundation an attitude of the heart that comes in response to God's glory. We worship when we submit ourselves wholly to God for His own pleasure. This is largely the point of Romans 12:1. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God (in response to God’s mercy in salvation), to present your bodies as a living sacrifice (humbly submitting to God’s purposes), holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

So, our very lives are intended to be offerings of worship to God in response to the Gospel.

Now, it's your turn. How would you boil down what worship is into one sentence and why? Comment below!

Friday, 12 July 2013 23:19

Why Blog?

Zach’s first post introduced the blog, which may have left you asking the question, “why?” “Why have we decided to begin using this form of media in addition to our other forms of communication?” Here are some reasons why we believe a church blog will be beneficial to our body as we move forward.

 1. We want to communicate with you more.The reality is that there is so much that goes on Sunday morning that we are fairly limited in our ability to communicate with the church as a whole regarding various things. We, as pastors desire to grow in communicating with the church. We want you to know what we’re thinking and why. We want you to be a part of the mission God has SCC on, and the first part of that is going to be communication.

2. Closely related to this is the importance of more communication. We believe that part of leading SCC forward to what God has for us in a way that honors Him is going to require more deliberate communication in ways that are accessible and logical in today’s world. Along with this is the importance of participating and allowing that communication to be received and assimilated by you. We humbly ask you to set a high priority on communication we provide on this blog, and join us in our vision for SCC’s vitality and fruitfulness in ministry in the coming years.

 3. We want to share things with you that will bless, encourage, and challenge you to keep your heart and mind fixed on Jesus throughout the week.We all know that following Jesus isn’t something we do only on Sundays, and occasional blog posts will help keep our focus where it should be; on the Lord and His Word, abiding in Him and bearing much fruit.

 4. Blogging can be used for the glory of God and the good of His church.We feel that like most technologies, blogging is a form of communication that can be used in a way that brings glory to God while ministering to both the author and the reader. Some of the benefits that can come from blogging are:

·         Blogs are easily accessible for most people in today’s world.

·         Blogs are less formal than all-church letters or emails, allowing us to communicate in a more natural and personal way.

·         Blogs allow for interaction via comments on posts.

·         Blogs can help us think through things by reading something short and succinct. Instead of having to read a book to think through an issue, we hope we can help you by being a sort of bridge that synthesizes truth and presents it in a concise way for your spiritual benefit.

In light of these things, we hope you will stop by, read, and join in with comments!