So many churches, even large churches, are known by their “senior pastor.” Instead of “First Baptist Church of Morality” the church is known by “Pastor Worldly Wiseman.” This is because the senior pastor may do 100% of the teaching, 100% of the leading, and 100% of the decisions in the church.
The result is that most people think that Pastor Wiseman is the head of the church.
Now I grant you that some small churches may only have one person initially able to teach and preach in the congregation. And one person may do a larger part of the teaching and preaching due to his gifted-ness. But the Biblical model of the church is for Christ to be head of the church, that men to be built up within the church to teach and preach through discipleship, and for a plurality of qualified elders.
Mark Dever in this article “How Mark Dever Passes Out Authority” writes on how he has humbly spread out the leadership of his church as to glorify the Lord. The entire list is below, but you can read the blog article for a statement on each point. The only one I would add for the “senior pastor” would be to “Sit, listen, and be fed while another man is preaching.”
- Build the church on the gospel.
- Establish a plurality of staff and non-staff elders.
- Limit the percentage of main-slot preaching.
- Create many other opportunities to teach for others.
- Seldom (or never) preach the Sunday evening service.
- Give young teachers the chance to make mistakes.
- Let others steal your ideas.
- Be willing to lose elder votes.
- Be slow to speak and speak sparingly in elders’ meetings.
- Don’t be the chairman in elders’ meetings or members’ meetings.
- Let other elders lead the congregation through difficult issues in members’ meetings.
- Use an “invitations committee.”
- Be devoted to one thing in the church and give freedom elsewhere.
- Don’t micromanage.
- Review weekly services.
- Be willing to receive criticism.
- Invite lay elders to give feedback on services.
- Pray for other churches and other denominations.
- Be quick to forgive.
- Rejoice in the victories of others.