Thursday, March 05, 2020


Only a fool thinks that you can get something different by carrying on doing more of the same.

Yet the church has been doing the same thing for the last 30 years and expects a different outcome. This does not make sense.

The modern pastor-leader model that we persist in relying on does not exist in the New Testament. Churches were led by a team of elders. Paul was never “the pastor” of a church in the modern sense of the word. The church in Antioch where he got his ministry underway was led by several “prophets and teachers” (pastors) (Acts 13:1).

When Paul was sent out to start new churches, he was part of an apostolic team (Acts 13:2-5). In all the churches founded by Paul and his team, elders were appointed to lead the church. Paul never appointed someone to be “the pastor” (Acts 14:23). When Paul met with key people from Ephesus towards the end of his ministry, he met with the elders and encouraged them to shepherd (disciple) the people in their care (Acts 20:17,28).

Paul did what Jesus had demonstrated. Jesus took twelve people with him everywhere he went. They watched what he did and learned how to do it. The best way to learn to pray for the sick is to stand alongside someone who knows how to do it. The best way to learn how to cast out deacons is to join with an experienced person when they are doing it. The best way to learn how to share the gospel of the kingdom is to be with someone who knows how to do it.

A dozen people will be too many for most people to manage. Paul only took two or three. But if every Christian who has developed a ministry took wone or two people with them when engaging in their ministry, the number of people able to minister in Jesus name would grow rapidly. This would be far more effective than the modern model of one person engaging in ministry while 200 people watch and listen.

The benefit of having teams of elders was that all new followers of Jesus were quickly and effectively discipled. The elders replicated their ministries in the people that they were watching over, so a ready supply of new leaders was available when the church grew quickly. Under this leadership model, the church grew quickly.

The modern church has rejected this model and relies on a professional paid-pastor, who gives teaching at a Sunday meeting. This method distributes knowledge, but falls far short of the discipling provided by the elders in the early church, where people learnt by doling stuff with the elders who were discipling them. The professional pastor model trains people to be passive observers, which massively weakens their effectiveness.

The church has persisted with this model for many years, without achieving the desired effect. There is no reason why more of the same will do anything different. Maybe its time to try the leadership model that worked so well in the time of Paul.

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