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No pastor can (or should) do it alone: A quick word on the importance of Plurality

February 14, 2020

 

No pastor can (or should) do it alone. 

 

Perhaps for awhile a solo pastor can preach every week, make all the hospital visits, lead every wedding and funeral, follow up on visitors, etc. all by himself. And for a season in a smaller church, it is understandable that he must, as there may not be any other called or qualified pastor-elders in the congregation. 

 

But eventually, burnout will begin to set in.

 

Loneliness and discouragement will arise.

 

Accountability will be hard to find...as will encouragement. 

 

The weekly grind of preaching and teaching will take its toll...

 

...not only on the pastor. But on their marriage and family, as well.

 

It is for these reasons, among many others, that I believe the Bible clearly lays out an alternative, beautiful model of pastoral leadership for the local church: A plurality of pastor-elders working together to know, lead, feed, and protect the flock of God.

 

I would argue that it is both biblical and wise to consider the role a plurality of pastor-elders will play in the long-term health of a church, a pastor and his family. As Brian Croft writes,

 

Although not explicitly stated by Paul to Timothy, it is consistently implied all throughout the New Testament that there is to be more than one pastor and deacon in each local church.  Other than the passages that describe the qualifications of a pastor or deacon (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9) there are numerous examples of both these offices serving with other qualified men, sharing the responsibilities (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Heb. 13:17).  Not to mention, the burdens and responsibilities of these two offices are too great for one man to carry alone.[1]

 

Again, while it may take some time to raise up other qualified pastor-elders, especially in a newer or smaller church, beyond the clear teaching of Scripture on this issue, let me briefly share 4 practical reasons it is wise to move toward this shared leadership model. 

 

Reason #1: Helps to assure that Jesus remains the primary leader and hero of the church. Any church that is built on one pastor-elder is vulnerable to making that individual the hero, rather than Jesus. A major problem with the solo pastor-elder model is this: When things are going great in the church that pastor-elder gets way too much credit and when things are going bad, he gets way too much blame. A plurality of pastor-elders helps to keep each of these in check. 

 

Reason #2: Prepares the church for future health. Life is short. Not one of us will be in our church forever, which is why we should always seek to lead with the future in mind. Building a team of pastor-elders who shepherd the flock helps to set the congregation up well for healthy pastoral leadership when the lead pastor-elder dies or is called away to another ministry. 

 

Reason #3: Long-haul sustainability comes as a result of shared pastoral duties. Pastoral ministry is hard work. Really hard work. It is taxing on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. The primary reason I believe the Apostle Paul always speaks of a plurality of pastor-elders in the his letters is because one guy can’t do it all alone! Shepherding takes a team to do well. If we desire to have pastor-elders who are healthy in mind, body, and soul for the long-haul, a plurality of shepherds is absolutely vital.

 

Reason #4: The health of a diverse, yet unified, pulpit. A shared pulpit is a good thing when those sharing the pulpit are a unified group of humble, biblically qualified pastor-elders. This shared preaching approach will allow the congregation to be fed by different pastor-elders, each with unique personalities and giftings. There is not one preacher who will connect with everyone in the same way in the same congregation. A shared preaching model helps to teach those in the church to value and experience a variety of preachers, all committed to loving and shepherding God's people through the faithful, expositional preaching of God's Word.

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