As I sit in churches as an observer, as an author/writer, I ask myself the same question that the apostle, Paul, asked. "Does the preaching square with the Word of God?"
If churches that I visit could get a score of above 80%...meaning that they teach and preach at least 80% of what the Bibe teaches, then as a visitor, I would join with that congregation. Of course, I am there only as an abserver, but I have to act as I would if I was an unbeliever - or a believer...looking for a chjurch home.
If a church preaches the full gospel of Christ - that is to say they preach and teach that Jesus is the Son of God - He came to this earth through a virgin birth...He had a ministry for 3.5 years, became our one-time blood sacrifice on the cross wherein He exchanged His righteousness for our sins, and He was raised again on the third day, and forty days from Resurrection Sunday, He ascended into heaven...then we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we shall spend eternity together.
But, other requirements beyond the Gospel of Christ are required. If the church gives an invitiation for lost souls that may be in the congregation to ask Jesus to become their Lord and Savior, then they have mustered up another point.
If a church has an outreach progrem into their community, into their State, into their country and they have a foreign missions program, they earn more points because those things are near and dear to the heart of God, the Father and God, the Son.
If a church is growing in numbers, this is a sign of the evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit upon that church. If the church is stagnant or shrinking, it might not be a place to call home.
I write books, I study churches. I like seeing if they actually teach God's Word - the Bible...because the pastors are instructed to do just that. "Feed my sheep with knowledge oand understanding."
Most churches mandate tithing. I believe these churches are shortchanging God by mandating that their congregations tithe, but...because so many of the pastors have been taught that way in seminaries or Bible colleges, I cannot count it against them, although their churches can't be growing. Further, their outreach ministry to win the lost has to be stifled with a mandated giving program. (See my two articles on tithing and New Testament Giving).
I have observed one church for six months. The pastor is great. His words are true, and their church has altar calls, and they do many things the way the Bible outlines. There are things, however, that they do that they truly believe, and have been taught...but do not match up with what the Scripture teaches.
Some of the things that have not squared with the Bible are that they allow women clergy to preach and teach. This is not scripturally correct. 1 Corinthians 14:34 tells us, "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says." How does one get around that Scripture?
How do some churches circumvent 1 Timothy 2:12? "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."
The church where I visited for six months has women guest preachers coming - to preach.
Points are lost for those who believe that they are apostles. Apostles are twelve in number, and Jesus chose all twelve who will be in heaven to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus did NOT pick Matthias (Peter did), and Judas was chosen as the betrayer. He would end up in hell.
Some churches, like the one I was observing, believe that there are prophets today. Jesus said they stopped in the "Season of John the Baptist". Luke 16:16.
Paul, the 12th hand-picked apostle of Christ said they would cease when perfection came. Perfection is Jesus - and He came.
Some believe that the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit is evidenced in being able to speak in "tongues".
I won't take the time to demonstrate that "tongues" ceased, so if you have the time, read my article on Tongues. This teaching takes a few points off.
The manifestation of the Holy Spirit POWER is that souls of unbelievers will come to Christ and be saved. The Holy Spirit always points unbelievers to Christ.
His POWER was given to the apostles, and to all disciples (we are disciples), and specifically given to EMBOLDEN the apostles (and us) to be able to utter the name of Jesus Christ.
As I have said in earlier articles, anyone can mention God in their conversations at work, at the hairdressers' or in schools...but dare utter the name Jesus Christ anywhere! This is why Jesus offered to EMPOWER His apostles who were hiding in an upper room for fear of retribution. They had a duty to perform..."That ye may become witnesses of me."
Jesus points unbelievers to Himself.
God the Father always points unbelievers to His Son.
I had to shave points from the church I visited when they taught about the role of the church ELDER.
In this instance, the Pastor chose a number of ELDERS from the congregation to help in his ministry. He then called upon the other Pastors to lay hands on these ELDERS for the purpose of granting them POWERS from the Holy Spirit so they could help perform their duties better than if they had not received this POWER.
The problem with that is this: ELDERS are PASTORS. Therefore, Pastors cannot appoint elders who are not Pastors. Pastors can (and should) choose out from among the congregation DEACONS. Deacons are NOT ELDERS.
So, my work was done after six months because, although 60% of what was being taught squared with the Bible, the number had dropped below an 80% minimum requirement.
Are these folks saved? Absolutely. Are they still my brothers and sisters in Christ? Absolutely. But, the doctrines of men do not square with the teaching of God, so one must draw a line somewhere.
You might be asking yourself, "So, who gives you the right to judge, John"? I am not judging...I am observing. We are admonished to "observe" according to one of the greatest preachers of all time...Paul, the apostle, prophet, Pastor and teacher.
Paul, the apostle of Christ, made a big deal out of those who study the scriptures to see if what they were being taught was scripturally sound.
Acts 17:11 tells us this: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and EXAMINED the Scriptures every day TO SEE IF WHAT PAUL TAUGHT THEM WAS TRUE."
If Paul challenged the Berean Christians to check out what HE told them...to see if it squared with the Scriptures...then should WE not study the scriptures to know that what WE are being taught is also scriptural?
Now comes an excerpt from one of my books - Heaven - How Do I Get There?...chapter 6. Chapter Six deals with church leadership.
ARE ELDERS DEACONS - OR PASTORS?
Some churches call deacons elders. This creates a problem.
Some deacons then believe they are on the same plane as the pastor. Only ONE must be the leader in the church - the “overseer”.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Satan loves to create “power struggles” in a church if he can. So, let’s address this problem – head on.
Elders are Pastors. Deacons are not Elders.
Elders have the rule over the congregation – deacons do not.
The apostle Paul wrote the book of Titus in 65 A.D. In Titus, Paul explains exactly who in the church are Elders, and they are clearly Pastors.
Titus 1:5-9 – “For this cause I left you in Crete, that you should do the things I could not finish, and appoint or ordain Elders in every city – like I asked you to do. If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot or being unruly – for a Bishop must be blameless as a steward of God, not self-willed, not soon to anger, not given to wine….”
Every one of these requirements for ELDERS are the EXACT requirements of a Pastor – which is also called a Bishop - Elder - Minister of the gospel, and they are NOT the requirements of a deacon. To teach otherwise is just bad teaching.
Let’s continue to clarify. Please note that Paul said, "Pastors are not given to wine" – no wine at all.
Some "clergy" actually drink wine. Some use real wine in churches. Some drink beer or even hard liquor. This must not be – according to Titus 1:5-9.
Deacons, on the other hand, are “not given to MUCH wine”. This verse will demonstrate that deacons have a less stringent requirement placed upon them than do Pastors. 1 Timothy 3:8 –“Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to MUCH wine, not greedy of filthy lucre. . .”
So, an Elder is a Bishop, Overseer, Pastor, Minister of the gospel, and a deacon is NOT an Elder.
I must continue this dialogue because Satan has divided churches or “split them” because of power struggles between deacons and the man of God – the leader, the pastor/overseer.
I want to see what I can do to encourage congregations and deacons to become aware of this critical issue of leadership. Hopefuly, I can accomplish that through my writings, and through the dedication by those Pastors who read them...or my books, to set out to search the scriptures also.
Do deacons “oversee” or have any authority over the local church? Short answer. No.
Somehow, Satan must have slipped the idea in somewhere that deacons rule the church and are there to keep the Pastor in line. Satan would also like to have churches believe there is a dual role of authority in the church, and that the deacons and Pastor share the authority over the “flock”.
Somewhere along the way, churches have believed that the congregation appoints or “elects” deacons and that they are “installed” by popular vote - like in a presidential election!
Maybe it’s because churches have been taught this: - “The congregation calls deacons and chooses them and elects them.”
I have observed several Baptist churches that were taught that way. But, was it in accordance with the teachings of the Bible? Short anwer is NO, but one must always “Prove the Bible with the Bible”. This is my motto.
We can close out the verification that pastors are the “boss”, the overseer of the church by reading Acts 20:2 – “Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made you Overseers to FEED THE FLOCK - the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.”
This verse confirms two things: First, it tells us that God and Jesus...and the Holy Ghost are one and the same. The Holy Ghost did not purchase the church with His own blood – Jesus did. Re-read the verse above to understand it more in depth.
The Holy Spirit of God and Jesus, being the same as God (known as the Trinity), has annointed the Pastor, and he is the Overseer, and his job is to “FEED MY SHEEP”. This is the role of Pastor – not deacon.
Back to the wine thing for a moment – and also the role of women practicing as pastors. Can women be pastors? Not according to the Bible.
Can women be deacons or “deaconesses”? I believe they can.
Phoebe was a deaconess. This verse in Titus 2:3 indicates that women can be deacons (table waiters). “The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things…”
This indicates that women deacons, like male deacons, may assist the pastor, and pass what they have learned along to the younger generation of women in the church – but not given to much wine. Some Baptist churches, however, do not allow women to be deacons.
A Pastor cannot be given to any wine, and I found no place in the Bible where a Pastor's qualification included being other than a man.
However, we have more pressing details of the difference between deacon’s role and Pastor’s role.
In Acts 6:2, “The apostles (twelve men called by Jesus to further the gospel of Jesus), preached the word, and showed “signs and wonders” to establish credibility, (and some were authors of the rest of the New Testament Books.
These apostles (who were also the pastoral leaders or overseers of the first Christian church at Jerusalem) called their disciples (followers, church members) unto them and said, ‘It is not right that we (preachers) neglect the preaching of God’s Word (they were not devoting their time to the call given them by the Holy Spirit to “feed my sheep”), so that we can serve tables and help out these widows that are being neglected.”
In other words, “Hey congregation, we need your help so that we can preach the Word of God. We’re doing all this other stuff, and it is taking away from the sole job that God has given us.” Jesus told us to “Feed His Sheep with the knowledge and understanding of His Word.”
When I observe that a Pastor is NOT feeding the congregation (the sheep) with the knowledge and understanding of God's Word, then it is time to move on and observe another church.
Be very careful to read these next words. Read them ever so slowly because they have to stick in your brain for you to truly get the scriptural verification that deacons and Pastors are different, and they have different roles in the church.
“Wherefore, brethren, look out among the congregation and find seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.”
Now read this next part slowly . . . . “WHOM WE PASTORS MAY APPOINT.”
The Overseer is supposed to appoint deacons as his helpers. In the above instance, it called for the appointment of seven men, but that requirement to find “assistants” to help the preachers was at that one church - the brand new Christian Church established in Jerusalem.
Churches today may need fewer deacons...or more deacons...there is no magic number. This first Christian church at Jerusalme had 5,000 men...plus their wives and children, so one might assume they had 15,000 souls in attendance on any given day. Yes, initially, they were found in the church DAILY.
Jerusalem needed seven deacons. Guess what? One deacon(Stephen) was deacon for a day! He was stoned to death almost immediately. (See my article on the stoning of Stephen....God killed him for US).
Other indications are, especially with “Phoebe”, that helpers to the pastors could also be women chosen out of the congregation.
The congregation is supposed to recommend certain of the membership to the Pastor. The PASTOR is then to appoint those whom he feels will be the right people to help or assist him in his efforts.
He “feeds the flock”. The deacons or "helpers" wait on tables and take care of the needy including widows in the church. “Wait on tables” is intended to mean take care of all other aspects of the church except for “feeding the flock”
If churches would only grasp this vital information contained within the pages of God's Bible - and apply it, there might be far fewer church splits, where the devil gets the glory, rather than God being the preeminent focus.
When a church begins to grow – Satan appears and problems occur.
Mark my words. If YOUR church begins to experience growth (meaning souls are being added weekly), then Satan will be right there to begin his divisiveness. He always does it in GRAY AREAS of God's Word...Tongues, Elders, etc. But, if one studies the Scriptures, there should be very few, if any, GRAY AREAS.
What happened in Acts was that the apostles – preachers of God’s Word, arrived on the scene and they were preaching up a storm. Thousands of lost people (those heading for an eternity in hell) were “saved”.
They repented of their sins, asked Jesus for forgiveness, trusted Him as Savior and Lord of their lives, and were on the road to Heaven. These people were “added unto the church.”
Then, Satan and his devils also added people unto the church, meaning there are always “tares among the wheat”. A tare is sometimes called “bearded darnel”, and is found among good, wholesome wheat. “This weedy annual grass often occurs in grain fields and other cultivated land; seeds sometimes considered poisonous.”
Jesus gave us a story – a “parable” in which farmers who had planted wheat noticed there were tares growing amongst the good wheat. The farmer said to those who discovered the tares amongst the wheat, “An enemy has done this.”
The servants said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” 29 - But he said, “No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30-Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, to gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but to gather the wheat into my barn.” – Matthew 13:28
The parable then, is that the enemy (Satan) has planted tares (evil seed) in the wheat field (churches) and they will always be there – until the harvest (rapture of the saints). At that time, God separates the wheat from the tares, and burns the tares.
Once the rapture takes place, these evil seeds (tares) will be separated and burned.
Meanwhile, the wheat (the saints) will be “gathered in Jesus’ barn” – Heaven.
Parables are very illustrative stories that teach us things. Jesus said that His followers would understand them, but others would not.
So, expect chaos and strife within the churches. But, do it right, and guard against the wiles of the devil. If it is taught wrong, Satan has an entryway into the churches that get it wrong.
The tares are planted within the church by the devil himself. The Bible instructs us to know this, to expect this, but to deal with these evil people in a particular manner.
To me, the most vulnerable spots in any church come from within the role of deacon. I have been a deacon in churches for years.
I have seen first hand, where deacons cause church splits by trying to usurp the authority of the Overseer/Pastor. In those churches, deacons considered themselves to be equals with the Pastor.
I wil talk abou the role of Pastor AFTER this verbiage about ELDERS and deacons.
It’s a power thing that Satan has, and it stems from his inability to be God, and his desire to at least fight God for equal power.
Satan, tries to fight God within the church by getting into the deacon board...especially one that is set up wrong. This is where he can best fight the man of God. This is why I (as a former deacon), have always stuck by my Pastor, giving him “double honor” as God requires of me.
This is why the Pastor MUST APPOINT deacons from a list of those who have been found by the congregation to be worthy candidates.
Remember, Satan will recommend worthy candidates, too – tares, so the effectual, fervent prayer of the congregation and the Pastor might weed them out (no pun intended) - before they are appointed by the Pastor. Before deacons are chosen, it is wise to take at least a month to prepare for their appointment by the Pastor. The congregation should drench themselves in prayer so they don't rush things or make the mistake of not including God in the selection process.
The Holy Spirit of the Pastor, if led by God, should be able to “bear record” or agree with the Holy Spirit within the candidates “chosen from among you”.
I dwell on this because statistics show that over 92 percent of church splits are caused by deacons who, like the ancient Korah, an Old Testament troublemaker, wanted to be an equal authority with God’s man....Moses.
Korah wanted to be an equal to Moses. Satan also said, “I shall be like God.”
Satan’s trick is to cause division in God’s house. A “dual leadership” in a nice way for Satan to accomplish this. Satan did it with Korah and 250 Levite priests….”men of renown”.
God finally put Korah in his place. God killed him and all 250 troublemakers who sided with Korah to overthrow Moses, and assume leadership over God’s people. They were consumed by fire. God wanted to demonstrate that there will not be a dual leadership role – it is not authorized. It can be dangerous for deacons to usurp the authority over the Pastor. I would never attempt it!
Can there ever be a dual pastoral leadership role?
Yes - limited. But, one will be a “senior Pastor”, the other a junior Pastor. The “senior Pastor” is the leader. If, as the case was in one church that I attended, the senior Pastor becomes disabled, the junior Pastor would assume the leadership role.
Jerry Falwell was the senior Pastor of a church in Lynchburg, Virginia with over one hundred pastors. They were all under his leadership role until the time of his death on May 15, 2007.
Pastors also need good deacons. The Bible tells the congregation to “Choose out from among you spiritual people.”
What, then, are the qualifications for a deacon?
A deacon is a “helper” and the qualifications to be a deacon are almost as stringent as those of a Pastor. This is because the office of deacon must be special. Deacons must be people who are trusted totally for their ability to help the Pastor in his ministry so the Pastor can concentrate on preaching the Word of God, and study God’s Word to get the messages (sermons) from God that are to be fed to the flock.
2 Timothy 4:2 – tells us that the Pastor is to preach the Word of God. He is to “be instant in season and out of season.” He is to “reprove the congregation” – which means to rebuke them when the message of the hour calls for it (if there becomes a problem in the church – usually caused by the “tares”). “He is to be longsuffering (patient) with his flock, and preach doctrine to them.”
Deacons must be “grave” (serious), worthy of respect, not double-tongued (speak from both sides of their mouth – liars, fabricators of the truth), not given to much wine, not greedy of money. Deacons must keep the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. “They must first be tested.”
This implies that before a person becomes nominated or called out from the congregation by the congregation, they should be placed in positions of service. This implies that a deacon may NOT be a new member. This test is to see if they are going to be faithful to God - or slackers. It is to see if they are spiritual - or phony. “If nothing contrary to God’s Word is found in their lives, then let them serve as a deacon.”
What about Deacon’s wives?
If a deacon candidate is married, his wife should meet the Bible criteria for deacon’s wives. Deacons, like pastors, “must be the husband of one wife”. That wife must NOT be a “malicious talker”. “They should be temperate, trustworthy, and faithful in all things.” If the deacon’s wife is not all of the above, the candidate shall not be a deacon. This is because this deacon would not have his household in subjection to his authority as husband given by God.
If a deacon is single...count him a worrthy, devoted servant of God. Paul, the apostle, counted being single as the BEST way to devote a life to God's service.
God’s plan is for UNITY in His church.
The Pastor, deacons and congregation should all strive toward UNITY, and not toward division.
UNITY means that everyone must strive toward “being of one accord” - to see that the lost become saved, baptized and “discipled” or trained in the ways of God. Is that not our great commission? “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you . . .” – Matthew 28-19.
Disagreement within a church family will occur.
Usually, there will be some disagreement in those few “gray areas” where the Bible is seemingly unclear. There is always some disagreement, for example, in the way the music of a church is structured. Some think the music ministry should be formal. Others believe the music should be casual. Some prefer piano or organ only. Others will speak of the timbrel (tambourine), or harp, drums, or guitar spoken of in the Bible, and this, they believe, should be the music preference.
Dress codes are another gray area that churches get into a ruckus over. This is why the Pastor must take the leadership role. He is the one chosen by God to lead - to oversee. His decision over every facet of the church is paramount – and ordained of God. Period.
My personal dress code for church is a suit and tie. Here's why: If God was going to be PHYSICALLY IN ATTENDENCE at a church (He is there in spirit), would I show up to see God face-to-face in blue jeans? I would not.
In fact, I fasted about six months ago at my home. I would be the only one there. Call me crazy! I got up...showered, shaved, put on my best suit, white shirt,and tie. I shined my shoes...because I was going to spend the next twelve hours with God.
I must say...it was one of the best times of fellowship with God that I have ever experienced. I believe that God honored my willingness to approach His throne of grace in my BEST attire.
That is my own personal view on dress, and not anything to do with the Bible.
The Bible illustrates stories of how churches should NOT discriminate against those who dress down versus those who show up in the best of clothing. They did that in the Temple, and Jesus didn't like it. Seats were sold or given to the ones who showed up wearing the finest of garb, while the less fortunate souls were shuttled up back somewhere.
Again, if the Pastor is heading down a road contrary to the teachings of God’s Word, there are scriptural ways to remove him, and the congregation should. If the church follows God’s plan for leadership, it will be blessed, and will grow.
Usually, growth is the sign of a church that is in God’s will.
I would like you to stop here….and re-read the above sentence.
Is your church growing? If it is, stay and be part of that growth. Do what you can to help further God’s will – “That all should come to repentance and be saved.”
If your church is stagnant – get out. You are wasting your time because if they are not doing what God’s primary will is, then you and they are guilty of the sin of neglecting doing God’s will.
Here’s why: We just have to remember what God’s will is. “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” If this is God’s will, and the church is right with God, it will be like the first Christian church spoken of in The Book of Acts – “and there were added unto them those such as should be saved.”
The lost will come to the church that is aligned with God’s will. God can trust that those lost souls will be fed and nourished in His Word. God will send lost souls to a church that preaches the Gospel of Christ.
Is your church growing? Are you in harmony with the Pastor – and God? Are you part of the solution toward winning souls, or are you part of the problem of stagnation?
“My four and no more.” Do you like a nice, quiet, non-growing church where you can be a “social butterfly”? If so, I have to tell you that I am happy that I am not a member there.
Caution: Some popular, growing churches are not of God, so be careful. Prove the church and the Pastor with the Bible. Are they living in accordance with the principles and teachings found in the Bible?
Often, it takes a few months to figure it out.
There are “mega-churches” that I shall call “fad churches”. The leader is charismatic, and probably teaches all the “feel good” stuff that people want to tickle their ears with. One comes immediately to my mind!
Is their emphasis on Jesus – or on other things?
Like I said, anyone can mention GOD in their preaching...in their conversation...but start preaching about Jesus Christ and see what happens! Wherever Paul went...riots broke out!
If the church is right with God, it will have “added unto it such as should be saved.”
Unfortunately, the devil likes to imitate God, so he develops “fad churches” that look like the real thing.
What is the formula for a successful, growing church? - “Love your Pastor, and be at peace with each other in the church.”
In 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 5, verses 12 and 13, we read, “We beseech you brethren, to know them which labor among you and are over you in the Lord, and to esteem them very highly in love….for their works (deeds) sake, and be at peace (get along) among yourselves.”
This is God’s perfect plan for church growth and leadership. We are to get to know our Pastor. Love him. Pray for him constantly. Why? Because Christ died on the cross and gave His life for the church.
The Pastor is there, appointed by God, to bring us a better understanding of God’s Word. When we do all that this article outlines, and those found in the subsequent chapters of my book - Heaven - How Do I Get There?, we would have peace among ourselves, not strife and contentions like Satan encourages and wants.
It’s all about choice!
Follow the teachings of God’s man – or reject them. It’s all up to you. Follow God’s appointed leadership – or don’t. Allow God to bless your church or stand in His way. It’s all about choice.
Your goal and mine should be UNITY...not division.
When Satan calls upon people to disrupt through gossip or some power struggle, just remember whom it is that promotes division, confusion or strife. Then, pray that you don’t become entangled in efforts to usurp the authority given to your Pastor by God.
Remember that your Pastor must give an account for his soul, and how he taught yours.
My belief is that God gives Pastors to feed us with knowledge and spiritual understanding; therefore, if God gives them, He also takes them out. God can handle the removal of a Pastor from a church without your help or mine! They can be removed feet first...or standing, and sometimes, it is up to them...then up to God.
Let God bless your life while you occupy until He comes, or until death takes you. Live in harmony, peace, goodwill, and be blessed by God for helping your pastor to do God’s will - which is to win souls into the kingdom of Heaven.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A "PASTOR" IN A CHURCH?
You can feel confident in this knowledge. God said, “I will give you Pastors from my own heart, and they will feed you with knowledge and understanding of my Word.” – Jeremiah 3:15
God promises to give us Pastors. We will find out what the word “pastor” means, and what their responsibility is to us and to God. We will also learn how to test them to see if what they preach is right, according to God’s Bible, or if they are misleading us. If they mislead, they are in it for their own personal gain, or are attempting to lead people away from God.
Each Pastor will be different, as each of us is different. We are as unique to God as snowflakes are. No two are identical. We all have our “spiritual gifts” once we become a child of the King. We will all be used of God (if we are willing servants)– in special and unique ways.
Pastors, however, are unique in that they must give an account to God for how they teach you.
They suffer “double jeopardy” because they must give an account to God for their own soul – and yours!
Some preachers are mild-mannered. They teach us, but they teach us God’s Word in a kind, compassionate, laid back type of preaching. Others are what I call “fire and brimstone” preachers where you can feel the fire of hell under your feet when they preach. Most are in between. All need to be in compliance with how God says they should be.
In all cases, the right one is given to us by God “to feed us with knowledge and understanding” of what God’s Word says.
It is not that they take one verse and give us one interpretation of it. They compare it, through much study, with other verses found in the Bible, and when they deliver their sermon, you will have a clearer picture of what God’s Word has for that particular congregation for that day.
Perhaps God wanted to encourage an entire congregation during a time of worship. Perhaps He wanted to encourage just one soul within the congregation. I have learned that God speaks to every individual differently, and accomplishes His objective in our lives – and does it all through the same message.
OTHER NAMES GIVEN TO PASTORS:
The Bible calls pastors by several names. They include – Pastor, Bishop, Overseer, Shepherd, under-shepherd, Elder and Preacher. Lets look into each of them.
The word Shepherd is used interchangeably with Pastor, and Jesus uses the term Shepherd or under-shepherd (meaning that Jesus is the Shepherd, therefore, Pastors are the under-shepherd). Jesus used this term because He said, “Feed my sheep.”
God wants His man to “feed His sheep”. We are the sheep.
An “Overseer” is appropriate because a Pastor must oversee the day-to-day operations of the church and to the preaching of the Word of God.
Pastors have the rule over God’s people. Deacons do not rule God’s local church – Pastors are the overseers.
A deacon, is also a servant of God and man, but may not usurp the authority over a Pastor.
If the church has no pastor, a deacon may be appointed in his stead until the church chooses a pastor. God chooses a Pastor for us, and we vote for the one that the Spirit within us agrees with.
SUBMIT TO YOUR PASTOR'S LEADERSHIP.
The Pastor of God’s local assembly – your church family, is YOUR Pastor.
Your first question, when you decide to visit a church should be, “Can this man become my Pastor? Can he minister to me? Is he of God? Do his words reflect and square with the Bible? Does he meet all of the qualifications (which you will discover shortly) that God requires for a man to become a pastor-preacher-minister of the gospel?”
If so, you must submit to his authority – as he must submit to God’s authority.
If you feel he cannot be your minister, go away. Find another church and Pastor that you will feel comfortable with. Once you make the decision that this man can be your Pastor, who you trust to feed you with knowledge and understanding of God’s Holy Word, then, by all means, honor that man. In fact, give him “double honor.”
Never try to tear him down - always build him up. If he is wrong, or goes astray, it is NOT your job to “get rid of him”. God will do that.
Remember Jim Bakker? Or, prhaps you have heard of Paul Sheppard of Palo Alto, California. Here was a man of God...leading a church for over twenty years. He recently had to resign due to "moral failure".
Satan got to God's man. I loved listening to this man preach....but God caught up with his sin, and exposed it. Lives were wrecked that day. His wife...his sona nd daughter...his congregation of about 6,000 people, and his radio ministry mounting into maybe a million listeners.
The Bible verse that we need to remember is “Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken into you the Word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”
Simply put, if he’s the Pastor, he has the rule over you, he directs and leads - you do not.
Follow the faith that he has, and consider the end of his conversation. Does he edify God, or himself? Do his messages lead people to salvation - or darkness? Are souls being sought after and converted from darkness to light – from sin to saved?
You will know a man of God by his “fruits” – by whether he conforms to God’s will, which is that none should perish, eternally, but that all should come to repentance and be saved.
If people are not making decisions to accept Christ as their savior, under the preaching of a particular pastor, you need to find another church.
When the Bible tells us to “Obey them that have the rule over you”, it means just that. You might ask, “Those who have the rule over me are the police, government officials, or parents - so, does this mean these are the ones God tells me to obey?”
God clears this up for us. In this instance He is speaking of pastors because He then says, “Who have spoken the Word of God unto you.”
This can only be your Pastor - although we are to obey the authority that is over us in the form of parents, government and police. This verse instructs us to obey the Pastors, and what they teach - so long as it squares with God’s Word.
“Having the rule over you” means they have God’s authority as His under-shepherd, and we are to look to them for our spiritual guidance based upon God’s Word.
This “rule over us” is the Word of God. If they rule by any other Book, you should leave the church, and go quickly.
If we know that the Bible says, we are not to have any graven images that we are told to worship, then we should not worship any images engraved that represent things in Heaven, on the earth or under the earth.
If a pastor of a church tells you to worship an engraved image of something in Heaven, in the earth or under the earth, hightail it out the door. This is in violation of God’s Word, therefore, this man does not have the rule over you. He may be the leader or the hierarchy of that church, but he’s not ruling you using God’s Word.
If they use other books that are purported to be “God’s Word” to support their belief system, but it contradicts the Bible in any way, shape or form, I would not risk my eternal destiny on that belief system. I would risk it, and do, on what the Bible dictates.
When church leadership rules over you, using God’s Word, and no deviations from it, then we are instructed to “follow their faith, and consider the end of their conversation.”
Follow them if they follow God’s Word. Do not follow them if they do not follow God’s Word.
God’s word IS the Bible. God’s word IS NOT what man tells you, nor is it something taken out of context, or from a host of alternate books….The Bible has not changed – yesterday, today or tomorrow.
How do we “check the pastor out” to see if he’s preaching God’s Word?
I have said, many times, “Prove the Bible with the Bible.” I get this saying from God’s Word.
If you have no idea what God’s Word says, by studying it, you will never know what God’s qualifications for a Pastor are, what the requirements are for a man to become a Pastor, and you can’t check to see if what you are being taught is accurate.
God gives us a clear illustration of how and why we should check pastors out.
Use the Bible to check the pastor and trust God’s Word that the Pastor is “feeding you” by checking the pastor’s words against God’s words -the Bible itself.
I went over this verse earlier with ELDERS, but we need to read it once more: Acts 17:11 – “The people at the church of Berea were more noble (they had more excellent qualities) than the people at the church of Thessolonica (Greece) , because they searched the scriptures daily and discovered for themselves that what Paul and Silas was preaching to them was correct.”
I could not make it any plainer than that. God wants us to prove these preachers by using His Word to make sure they are feeding us correct information. The only way we can do that is to read the Bible for ourselves and study it.
If a pastor tells me to give $1,000 on Sunday because the Bible says I have to, how would I know if that was the truth? If it were the truth, I would read it for myself, and not take his word for it. This is “noble” according to the preacher of all preachers – Paul, the apostle.
What are the requirements established by God for someone to become a Pastor?
In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, we find that, to be a Pastor, one must be “blameless (above reproach) and the husband of one wife.”
If this is true, and it is, after all, God’s Word, then a Pastor has to be a man. A woman pastor cannot be the husband of one wife. A pastor cannot be the husband of one husband. A pastor can be a single man – as was Paul, the apostle. Can a pastor be divorced, remarried, and then he is the husband of one wife?
Matthew 5:31 and 32 suggests that a man who is divorced - due to infidelity on the part of his wife may marry again without having committed a sin.
This can become complicated, and there are no hard and fast rules that I could find. However, we do know that before a man is saved, he could have been divorced, now married, now saved, and called into the ministry. The apostle Paul was a murderer. He killed lots of Christians before he was saved. Yet, he became probably the greatest servant of the Lord. Jesus called him into the ministry.
Murder and adultery are both violations of the Ten Commandments. Sinners saved by grace go into the ministry. On the other hand, what if a man becomes a pastor, and then gets a divorce?
I’m not sure, but Matthew 5:31 and 5:32 suggests that he cannot be a pastor. Also, how can he rule his church family well (commanded by God), if he cannot rule his own family and household? He can’t.
After the requirement that a pastor must be the husband of one wife, he must then meet other qualifications, including “being vigilant”, which means ever- watchful over his church family. He must be “sober” – which means self-controlled.
A pastor who is sober is also required to be even-tempered. He can’t fly off the handle whenever someone or something does not go his way, or someone asks him a question – even if the question irritates him, or he’s had a bad day.
He must be of good behavior. This is to say that a Pastor must be above reproach in the community - respected.
He must be given to hospitality, and show himself to be friendly, open and honest. He must be open and friendly to those in the community who are unloved, abandoned, unsaved - maybe even dirty or derelict.
He must be respectful of other’s belief systems that are not his own. No one religion has the corner on Heaven! The ones that do, however, include as their doctrine, that the only way to salvation spoken of in the Bible, is through Jesus Christ.
A pastor must not be a “striker”. This means not violent, but gentle. He must not be greedy. Greed includes money and material things that he would try to solicit from members for his own personal gain.
He must be patient. He must not be a brawler, and this includes being a bully – not quarrelsome or a fighter.
He must rule his own household well. This includes not having unruly children who openly disobey him. How can a man rule the house of God if he cannot rule his own family?
This doesn’t mean that his children are supposed to be little angels. It simply means they must be under his authority. When he speaks, they should obey and respect him. He should love them, and demonstrate that love.
A pastor cannot be a novice. This means he cannot be a beginner and start a church. To do so would lead to disaster. A novice has no experience. Therefore, a novice needs to be an associate pastor or youth minister somewhere first. A novice implies a new Christian, too. A pastor cannot be a new Christian and teach God’s Word. How can he know God’s Word?
Going to seminary or other forms of professional training is good to do. 1 Timothy, Chapter three qualifications suggest that he cannot start a church without first gaining experience.
He must be well respected in the community. If he is a brawler or arrogant, and known to be a man who is always taking on issues in the community, and fighting with people, he cannot and should not be a pastor.
The reason this requirement is in 1 Timothy, is because a pastor can’t be effective in the community in which he might draw the unsaved into his church if he cannot have an open discussion with those in his community who need Christ. If he closes himself off to the community, or becomes a brawler with those in his community, his testimony for Christ is of no impact.
If your Pastor, Shepherd, Overseer, Preacher, Bishop, Elder, Minister (all one and the same) meets all those requirements, we must submit to his authority over us.
WHAT IS A PASTOR'S AUTHORITY?
His authority is the Word of God – the Bible.
This is the authority over you and me. God’s Word is our authority and is used to govern our life on this side of Heaven. If what your pastor tells you is in The Book – do it. If it Ps not in the Book, talk to him about it, or move on.
How do we know if it’s in the Book? Study the Book, as Paul has told us to do. You and I alone are responsible for our eternal security.
Pastors must give an account to God of how he teaches us.
When you face God, you must give an account to Him for your own actions. When a Pastor confronts God after he dies, he must give an account for himself – and every member of his congregation! That’s some pretty heavy stuff!
That is double jeopardy. This is why I would not want to be a Pastor, and it is also why I give them double honor.
Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls (they are entrusted with your spiritual well-being), as they that must give and account to God."
Obey them – why? “So that they may minister to you with joy, and not with grief, for that is unprofitable to you.”
The word Pastor in interchangeable with “servant”
Jesus washed the feet of his apostles.
He did that to show that we are all servants of each other and to God. No one is elevated above anyone else in spiritual matters. We are all to have a servant’s heart.
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.” – Matthew 10:24 - 25.
This is to remind pastors and the congregation that neither have power over the other, but the Pastor shall feed the congregation with knowledge and understanding.
The Pastor will be the Shepherd, who cares for God’s “sheep”.
Jesus went on to tell his disciples/apostles some unbelievers in the outside world will condemn what they do, and what they preach.
In Matthew 10:26 – 28, we read, “If they (Pharisees and others) have called the master of the house (intended to mean Jesus) - Beelzebub (Satan), how much more shall they call them of his household (disciples)?"
"Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without God knowing about it. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in Heaven." – Matthew 10:28 – 33.
Back in the time of the first churches, Jesus commissioned His Apostles - who were also Pastors/Preachers to go out and preach all that they have learned from talking with Jesus.
The bottom of that verse indicates that if we deny Christ in front of others, He will deny us in front of His Father when we meet face-to-face. Denying Christ, or rejecting Him is what will keep you out of Heaven.
What do we do if a Pastor goes wrong?
Satan is always attacking Christians, but he attacks pastors more so because they lead Christians to Christ and feed them God’s Word.
If Satan can destroy a Pastor’s life – a spiritual leader, he has accomplished a defeat for God. This is his goal. He hates God.
Sometimes, Pastors do err from the faith. They go wrong, which is to say they begin living their lives opposed to what God’s Word teaches.
If a pastor begins to go down the wrong pathway, which is the path leading away from God; there are clear, scriptural ways to address that situation. It also comes with a warning.
In 1 Timothy, 5:19 and 20, we are told, “Do not even entertain an accusation against a Pastor (Elder), unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.
If a pastor is found to be guilty of an alleged sin, then they are to be taken before the entire church membership and rebuked (chastised) publicly – so that others may also fear living in sin and being rebuked before the church.”
Often, “sister Busybody” or some church leader will trump up a charge against the preacher if she’s upset or angry with him.
Then, rather than doing things scripturally (according with the words of the Bible), she runs off to a deacon or someone else in the church and starts whispering, “Did you know that pastor did such and so?”
This is pure gossip starting to rear its ugly head in the church. Satan is the instigator behind gossip. One of the Ten Commandments is that we are not to “bear false witness” against another.
If that happens, without two or three witnesses, and you are a recipient of this gossip or hearsay, you need to do one of two things: Volunteer to go see the accused with the accuser. Say to the accuser, “Fine, let’s go talk to the one you are accusing - you and me and your accused – face-to-face.”
Usually, the accuser will not do that because they are lying, or want to stir up trouble in the church. Satan’s goal is to find busybodies just like this to bring an accusation against another. This happens in the workplace, too, and should be handled in the same manner – face to face.
The second thing you could do is to ask the busybody to make her accusations in front of two or three witnesses. If she/he does this, then bring the busybody and the deacons before the pastor and talk about it.
I witnessed an accusation against a deacon. It was for sexual misconduct with girls in the church.
It was proven to be true, and it was resolved between the deacons and the Pastor, and the deacon was asked to leave the church.
He admitted to the accusations, but was unrepentant. So, sometimes, allegations are true, as in the case of televangelist, Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggert...or Paul Sheppard.
Most often, however, I have found that accusations against a brother or sister in the church are unfounded and are caused by someone who wishes to simply cause strife and division.
In closing....ELDERS are PASTORS, and NOT deacons.
Love your Pastor. Pray for him and for your deacons. Support your Pastor if he is preahing God's Words from the Bible.
Don't just take a pastor's word for things that are purportedly in the Bible. Instead, study God's Word to KNOW that what they tell you is truth.
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John Tyler, Author of nine books.
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