Skip to comments.Who Has The Final Say: Pastor, Deacon Board Or Voting Members?
Posted on 05/22/2013 7:21:09 AM PDT by Laissez-faire capitalist
If a pastor says that he has prayed and sought direction from God, and yet is opposed by the deacon board, should the pastor be able to overrule them? Do deacons occupy a role beyond that of an advisor? Are they equal in authority to the pastor? I'm not saying that a deacon board is no better than dirt (by any stretch of the imagination, as they do have a necessary and Biblical role to fill), but I can't find any scripture where a deacon board has authority equal to that of a psator.
It has been said that the pastor is God's gift to the church, and the board the church's gift to the pastor. Yet the two cannot be equal, as God's gifts are greater than man's gifts, because God is greater than man.
Secondly, if the church is to embark upon a building program, should the decision be left up to the deacon board, with each of them putting down their assets as collateral (which is the case in some denominations depending upon the church's affiliation - be it district or national), or should each tithe-paying voting member have a vote (and thus a say) in any building program, and with enough yes votes, putting the church itself up as collateral?
Should any position (be it pastor or deacon) be permanent and never voted upon?
Just spitballing here but um .... I believe that God has the final say.
What say you?
If the pastor says he has paryed and sought God, says that it is God’s will on something, the deacons though say no, and the deacons somehow overrule the pastor, can/should the tithe-paying voting members override the deacon board?
It all depends on how that particular church is setup rules wise.
I the NT, deacons did NOT have that authority at all.
There are many questions to be answered before one can answer that question.
Strange question for this forum...but depends on the founding docs of the church I would think.
Pastor = CEO
Deacon Board = Board of Directors
Voting Members = Shareholders
I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with comparing churches and businesses. But that's the way things work.
Otherwise, it comes down to a "My God/Jesus is superior to your God/Jesus" mud slinging match.
Look at the Charter and Bylaws.
If you are going to play by the Govt’s rules of incorporation, etc. that is what you play by (failed man’s system).
That said, I believe in the unity of the Spirit, which I interpret as, if you and I disagree, one or both of us is wrong. Meanwhile, God is right. Finding His will may be difficult, or may take patience.
Recall Paul and his desire to go to Rome (I think), and the opposition by other Christians. The Holy Spirit worked it out.
I would like all leaders to agree in making a decision. Upper room — all of one accord. But Christianity is not a cut-and-dried set of rules that we humans desire, but obedience to the Spirit of God.
As do I...but I seriously doubt that Jesus will taken solid form and give His decision at a/any church meeting.
And so we have His word - the Bible - to go by.
I see no place where the deacon board and or church board has much of a say in anything.
Apples and oranges.
While a church has to be run like a business, it itself is not a business.
re: “Who Has The Final Say: Pastor, Deacon Board Or Voting Members?”
If your church belongs to a denomination that has a governing board outside of your individual church, such as Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc. Those denomination’s ecclesiastical authorities usually determine who the pastor will be, funding, etc.
Other denominations, like Southern Baptist, or in “independent” churches (who have no formal denominational affiliation) the local church is independent of any outside authority. Each church elects its own deacons, elders, pastors, ministry staff (music, education, etc.). Also, these more independent churches usually have a church “constitution” which is supposed to give guidelines as to how the church makes decisions, the job descriptions of every position in the church (including the pastor, deacons, etc.)
In churches that do not have a constitution, often it is the founding group or pastor who decide all the decisions.
If your church is not affiliated with one of the liturgical denominations, you need to find out if your church has a “constitution” or some kind of formally voted on document that determines the role, the decision-making process, etc. If your church doesn’t have a constitution, then it is pretty much up to tradition within that church as to who has the authority to make decisions.
Of course, all decisions should be based on Scriptural guidelines, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
Interesting organizational chart Ping.
Excellent points, SA, and each answer will lead to further questions. For L-FC, you also need to understand that, in the original Greek, the word for deacon meant “minister” or “servant”, implying that a deacon has a ministry of service or work for a particular function. The words “pastor” and “elder” are similar and indicate a responsibility to have authority over the congregation for their spiritual well-being.
In an independent, congregationally-organized local church, the functions and hierarchy would be a group of elders that are local congregation members that would hire a minister or ministers for specific functions, i.e pulpit/preaching, youth, outreach/missions, etc. The elders would also select deacons and name them to specific works/ministries of the church. Within those functions, the elders would be seeing to the spiritual side of church operations but would also have executive authority for business operations. JMO, but I think this best follows the New Testament pattern.
In my (long and painful) experience, no matter what happens, someone's ox will be gored and they will leave with much acrimony. If enought oxen were gored the church will split with much acrimony. Either way it will be difficult.
This stuff is why I am seriously considering giving up on congregational churches.
Personal example. Our former Pastor brought in a speaker who by all measures was a heretic to speak for a week straight. Without knowledge of the council who the man was. The pastor vouched for him, because he prayed about it and said he felt led. The council, held a vote and said the pastor had lost our confidence, and we were going to bring evidence before the body of the church. The Pastor resigned and left the church. The body has the ultimate say so, because we have the word of God to test these men against scripture. There are wolves among the sheep.
Assuming they have all prayed as they should - their final vote should be in unison where someone, through prayer, saw the error of their ways. God doesn't give different answers. So someone is amiss here. I say they each go back until they are all in unison and comfortable about it. If nothing else, it's an exercise in hearing God correctly and being humble enough to admit you didn't hear correctly earlier. That kills any pride that may exist among them. Then the church will grow - new building or not.
What particular denomination has piqued your curiosity?
This happened in my old church. The elders quit, and many members quit.
I quit before the elders. My daughters didn’t like the youth group, and started going to another youth group on Saturday. That church is big and has Saturday services. For about 6 months, i went to both churches. Then my husband, started visiting the new church, and then my son.
The new church was so much happier. The sermons were so much better. They had so many opportunities to serve. I also liked that they has lots of guest speakers and other pastors that regularly spoke.
My old church was small, and I was increasingly feeling like it was the church of the pastor. One time, he said that if we didn’t feel called to go to Morrocco with a missions group, then we needed to reexamine our hearts. I was so discouraged by that sermon. My family has lots of medical problems (daughter with epilepsy, daughter with a movement disorder, husband with cancer).
My old church made me feel guilty that I wasn’t doing enough. The new church encourages me in my day to day activities, and given me lots of opportunities to serve that I have taken advantage of.
If you study the NT you will find no “Pastor” ever leading a church, no “Deacon Board” governing it, and no membership voting on anything.
The word “poimen” (pastor or shepherd) is always plural in the NT except when used in reference to the Lord Jesus; the early churches were governed by the elders - always plural again - who had final say.
A man as head of a church is from the world system, not scripture. Same for a voting membership. Deacons were not in church governance in scripture, but were servers in the practical realm.
Since your church (and the majority of others) do not follow the pattern given in scripture, but devised by man and his fleshly thinking and tradition, there is no answer to your question from scripture.
The good news is that God’s grace is such that He can still accomplish His will in spite of man’s doing things his own way instead of God’s way. It’s not so frequent though.
Yes it is. If a Bible-based conservative church, it is in the business of saving souls, creating opportunities for service and improving the lot of mankind through Christ-centered actions and teachings.
If a libtard feel-good church, it is in the business of pushing big government solutions under the cloak of faux Christianity.
There is no escape from the business model in either case.
Ideally, the spiritual leadership and the business leadership of a congregation should be seperate but supportive of each other. From your description, these two are at odds. Until they can both show humbleness and find a way to agree without any rancor, nothing should be moved on. BTW, if the board of deacons are elected by the congregation, the voters have already had their say. Putting something up to a general vote should not be done.
Oh, while not all elders are gifted as pastors/shepherds, they are all given the charge to “shepherd” the church of God - the verb form of the noun poimen....
See Acts 20:28 where Paul gave his last instructions to the elders of the church at Ephesus: “shepherd the church of God”.
Then see I Peter 5:1,2; verse 4 implies that the elders are indeed the shepherds of the church, relating them to the Lord Jesus, “the Chief Shepherd”.
The elders (plural) main duty is to shepherd the church of God. But no elder, in fact no man, is ever titled “Pastor” in scripture. Except for the Lord Jesus. He alone has that title. Wouldn’t want to be caught taking a place that is only His.......
20 Replies. I wondered if/when someone would point out the denominational errors of pastors and deacon boards.
Lots of opinions here, but little reference to scripture as a basis.
A statement of the true spiritual condition of the church today. Tons of man’s ideas - little basis in scripture.
And a reason for the sad condition of most of the church.......
Since you are a laissez-faire capitalist :-) you would agree that a church is a voluntary organization. Any group of people who are forming a church would decide up front how authority and responsibility will be divided up among its members: whether the pastor/priest would have final authority, or a majority (or supermajority) of a governing body, or if all decisions require a majority (or supermajority) of the voting members. Anyone considering joining a church that is already formed should know ahead of time how the church divides up authority and responsibility among its members, and since joining is voluntary, decide beforehand whether or not to agree to the church’s setup.
I would think you must obey whatever the congregation’s charter states. If the deacon or pastor has received a spiritual word, let it be tested according to the scripture that he may convince whatever temporal authorities may exist. Contrary to popular notions, even the pope in the Catholic church never says, “you must believe me because I tell you God told me this, and I am the pope!”
Rather, in all matters, his authority is temporal (worldly), and may certainly be misguided or evil. The only time he is infallible is when he proclaims the truth of a moral doctrine, in which case his authority is not his own, but rather merely his ability to discern what the not-yet-infalible doctrine had always been in the Church, without informed opposition. This is why popes summon ecumenical councils: to see if a doctrinal consensus truly can be reached, if none already exists. Only in three matters has the pope ever declared a doctrine infallibly without benefit of a council, and in each case he affirmed the unanimity of bishops throughout the world and throughout history.
>> The word poimen (pastor or shepherd) is always plural in the NT except when used in reference to the Lord Jesus; the early churches were governed by the elders - always plural again - who had final say. <<
Not nearly as meaningful as you make it. Neither is that word ever used to refer to a multiplicity of pastors, however, except in Ephesians 4:11, which hardly makes your point (”And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”).
Only in matters of doctrine, my FRiend. There is an eternity of distance between a decision whether to build an addition, and whether to alter the church's stance on baptismal regeneration. If in the former case you insist on the unity of the Spirit, you would have to accept that same scrutiny in the choice of the color of the choir robes, and be prepared to say that the misguided sinful souls who insist on navy rather than royal blue are outside of the Will of God.
I think you would agree that last case is just silly. Are we in unity of the Spirit there?
1) the pastor says he has prayed and sought God, says that it is Gods will on something,
2) the pastor makes an appeal to the tithe-paying deacons representing the voting members of the congregation, saying that he believes "something" is God's will and he would like the church to collectively support the "something" effort,
3) the tithe-paying deacons representing the voting members of the congregation pray and seek God, and conclude individually and collectively that the pastor's leading on "something" is NOT God's will,
4) the deacons say no, and
5) the deacons overrule the pastor,
6) the pastor makes a direct appeal to the tithe-paying voting members of the congregation, saying that he believes "something" is God's will and he would like the church to collectively support the "something" effort,
7) the tithe-paying deacons, previously elected to represent the voting members of the congregation, inform the congregation that the pastor has already approached them, that they have prayed and sought God and have concluded individually and collectively that the pastor's leading on "something" is NOT God's will, and that the pastor has already been turned down by them,
8) the tithe-paying voting members pray and seek God on the matter of the pastor's "something" AND on the additional matter of the pastor's refusal to heed the deacons' decision,
9) the tithe-paying voting members either vote to override the deacon board (and possibly the remove the deacons from their representative position), OR they vote to uphold the deacons' decision on their behalf (and possibly vote to bring discipline against the rebellious pastor).
**Who Has The Final Say: Pastor, Deacon Board Or Voting Members?**
What church is run like this? Seriously, what denomination?
In general, the board is the controlling authority in the church and the Pastor is an employee.
So the board should be able to overrule the Pastor, and the voting congregation should be able to overrule the board.
This is how my church is organized and most churches are the same.
Christians are often susceptible to this “false guilt”. A good book on this is “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend, who are Christian psychologists.
In the Book of Acts, the Office of Deacon was created to FREE the Apostles from “serving tables in order to devote themselves to prayer and teaching”.
So, technically, the Diaconate ‘s duties are PHYSICAL, while the Pastor’s Duties are SPIRITUAL.
However, if your church’s by-laws differ, than it is incumbent upon the Board AND the pastor to go by the rules.
I haven’t gone to my church since the pastor told me I wasn’t welcome there. I had told him that if Jesus was there, he would drive the preacher and his wife out of the church with a whip.
My mother has about had it too. The most recent incident: he told me mother to stop doing mission work, because it was encouraging people to donate to missions, not to the church collection plate, and we really need a new sound system to compete with the Assembly of God.
“Not nearly as meaningful as you make it. “
Your opinion, dear brother.
The singular appearance of “pastors” (plural) in Eph. 4:11 only evidences that the current/traditional role of “Pastor” is not found anywhere in scripture. It never is a position or title. It is a gift (an individual) given by God to the church. Pastors are clearly vital to the church. It’s just that the traditional view is warped. The part of the church claiming to adhere only to scripture has no other practice that has less (zero) supporting scripture. The use of James as an example is a stretching scripture that would not be allowed in any other area of discussion of doctrine or practice.
I think this is the way it should be.
I wish it was this way in my old church.
Don't have one? Oh, well.
Honestly, often the biggest donor will eventually become the only donor. I've seen it. That outcome is the Lord speaking to the wise.
What color choir robes do angels wear? That would be the correct color.
Just kidding to make a point. We are living in luxury if we can have a choir. No persecution to drive us to the essentials of the true church. In a sense I consider a choir an extra that may be temporary and/or expendable. And any fighting over robe color is evidence that the choir or robes may not be in God’s will.
We actually had a member complain about the color/design of the roofing shingle pattern, which slightly changed color as the lot color changed. The roofing was done by volunteers, and paid for in cash from donations.
It made that person ashamed to attend in that building.
Something, somewhere along the line was wrong about that whole situation.
Meanwhile, God has quite a task by using humans to get his work done. He knows that we will react differently to the different situations, and ultimately works things together for good. And it is my job to obey Him and listen to the Holy Spirit as best I can. And kill my pride, and change MY ideas as necessary, etc.
There are many independent local churches who reject the concept of a "denomination." Mostly, they agree there is no such Scriptural concept of a ruling body external to the local church intermediate between them and the Head.
First your church, depending on what church it is is ruled by what ever it says it is ruled by. Churches have a legal existence. They are much like corporations in most states. Although the US Constitutions says there shall be no law respecting religion most states do indeed do just that. There are state laws that govern what a church is and isn't. This is not all bad though rarely enforced it is to protect people from the many fakes who preach for gain.
In most states there is a governing board of a church. That board makes all the decisions, ALL. The pastor may make decisions but only with approval of a governing body. They can fire him. Now in most churches where there is a denomination involved then you in order to be a part of that denomination must also follow their rules, so now we have state law and the board of the denomination that must be followed. In most churches there is also a local board of Elders, Deacons or some other group that consists of people who have signed on to the debt of the church. When a building is built the bank doesn't loan money to a church without people with means signing on to the dotted line.
Now having said all this let me throw a monkey wrench into the gears. When Christ left the earth he left the Apostles in charge of the church and made Peter the chief Apostle. Any questions that could not be answered adequately locally went to the Apostles. If the local Apostle could not answer it, then it went to Peter.
The Universal or Catholic church eventually divided up into different sects. For a long time there were only a few of them and the largest was the Church of Rome or what we today call the Roman Catholic Church. All this about the history is a paraphrasing of it, it isn't important how exact that all happened what is important is that the rule of The Chruch does not come from the people, at least it is not supposed to come from the people, certainly it has not always been so.
When Martin Luther took people away from the mother church he made many doctrinal changes and management changes to his church as compared to the Roman Church that he broke away from and that has been the way it has been done ever since in most of Christianity.
People will argue that Martin Luther's methodology is ok if the Holy Bible is used for direction and if that direction comes under inspiration of the Holy Ghost. There are literally thousands of denominations that claim to be Christian and use the Holy Ghost and the Holy Bible for leadership yet they all say different things. Many have some doctrines in common but differ on more than they agree.
When people leave a church either they are wrong in leaving the inspiration led pastor or the pastor was a fake, an impostor, a wannabe or something. There aren't other possibilities. Yes you can say the Pastor was a fallen prophet I guess but grasping at straws won't help your salvation.
People read the Bible and think they want to be a shepherd. How many times have I heard a pastor say he felt led by the Holy Ghost to be a pastor. Just what the heck does that mean. The fact is that we don't choose it is God that chooses. Even Christ did not decide to be a priest, He was called by God to the priesthood. (5th chapter of Hebrews) Aaron who was the father of the priesthood in Judaism as a High Priest and his sons after him did not decide this himself but was told by Moses he would have that office after God told Moses to call him to it.
I think today we take much too lightly the calling of Priest, Pastor, Minister, Shepherd, Deacon, Elder, Bishop or whatever compared to the way Christ did it and to the way it is done today in the Catholic Church.
We have lost it somehow through the ages. I will be very interested when I find a church that says that boldly says “God said” this or that and “God said I was to hold the priesthood and ordained me.” When these things happen I will be very interested indeed.
I have not said that the Catholics have it but I think they or perhaps even the Mormons are closest to it. They both make similar claims. Actually the Eastern Orthodox and Coptic churchs all make similar claims and have similar organizations.
Until God again appears and leads His Church you might as well worship the way you see fit because it won't make any difference until God authorizes again His Church on the earth. His Church will be “One” church.
I love The Lord, I anticipate gladly His 2nd coming. If I die today and bathe His feet with my tears of embarrassment and thankfulness I will know no better then that what I know now. The glass we look through dimly in our old age gets clearer and clearer.
I don't believe that this passage says what you would like. First, this text permits that a local church may have rule by a plurality of elders. It says nothing directly about one titled "Pastor." Laboring in the word and doctrine does not make one a "pastor." Speaking to Simon Peter, His last commands were for an elder to spiritually feed and tend (provide a governing influence) to the flock, both lambs and sheep, individuals and corporate.
Your example, for starters, ought to be the local church at Jerusalem, as it developed. Peter was not its "pastor." How many of the Eleven were titled "Pastor" in that church? None. How many of them were elders? All. At first, how many were deacons? None. Later on (Acts 20, Galatians 2)), were the Eleven speaking for the Jerusalem church after deliberations? James was given the role of voicing the decisions of the unified elders. They all offered the right hand(s) of fellowship.
Paul was a member ofthe local church at Antioch. Were they not his sending authority? Were not he and Barnabas teachers of doctrine in Antioch (of Syria), and were they rulers there? Perhaps you might want to think these things out a bit, before stating more about church polity.
I appreciate your responses, as having a sound basis. After closely studying out the offices in the local church, one comes to the conclusions about Scriptural roles vs titles. Not only did the NT church polity become seriously warped near the beginning, but what has become strongly believed tradition has so seriously bent the customs of Christendom that Christ's commands are followed only in a few local assemblies.
One lengthy comment here builds on the "sacral society"--a continuing attempt to impose the priestly religion of the OT on the NT--by a structure not fit for accomplishing an evangel of discipling to salvation with spiritual maturation as the ongoing process.
A typical Scriptural form is that reinstituted by the brethren of Plymouth, England, about 180 years ago. In these assemblies, rule is by the spiritual men of the assembly, recognised for their corporate influence on the assembly, Christ preeminent, and literal/grammatical/historical/cultural interpretation and application of His Word the Guide. In this context, the questions asked by the poster would not need to come up.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
If that is your experience then quit honestly, you need to find another church that you can call home. There is no way I would ever stick around a church where I heard something like that.
No, all it does is demonstrate that the word “shepherd” is used in reference to a ministerial role only in the instance of The Good Shepherd and Peter, who is told “shepherd my sheep.” (In this instance, the King James translated “poimain” as “feed,” but it obviously relates to “poimen”.)
However, if your intent is to demonstrate a lack of a singular leadership role in a congregation, I would point out that “presbyteros” means “one who presides over,” and that it used many times, and that “presides” refers precisely to the type of leadership role you deny exists.
That was when I was a kid and growing up Evangelical. I’m Eastern Orthodox now, so if the priest pulls a heretical we just call the bishop. I hear the Greeks have “big donor” issues. Our giant donors give out of guilt for not coming to church. They don’t get special treatment when they do turn up and they certainly don’t change our theology.
That reminds me of a bad joke. How many Orthodox Christians does it take to change a lightbulb? CHANGE?????!!!!
Not only did the NT church polity become seriously warped near the beginning, but what has become strongly believed tradition has so seriously bent the customs of Christendom that Christ's commands are followed only in a few local assemblies.
So the Church that actually discussed, argued and prayed about which texts were and were not a part of what you called "His Word the Guide" was actually a seriously warped polity that bent the customs of Christendom. The New Testament Canon was not compiled until 400 years after Christ, which I would assume would fall outside your "NT church polity near the beginning." That being the case, I would suggest that, perhaps, they not only bent the customs of Christendom, but they also messed up which texts belong in Scripture. If they were as twisted as you suggest, I would argue that not only would they not recognize God's Holy Word, but that such people would insert their own to meet their own purposes.
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