RELIGIOUS TITLES

A gracEmail reader writes, "I am trying to learn to be more tolerant of other Christians. One area that gives me difficulty is the use by many groups of the terms 'Reverend' or 'Father' for the clergy. Is this not in conflict with Jesus' teachings?" * * * You refer, of course, to Matthew 23:8-10, where Jesus instructs his followers not to be called "Rabbi" (teacher or master), "father" or … [Read more...]

PASTORS, ELDERS & PREACHERS – 2

A gracEmail reader writes, "Why do Churches of Christ not call their preachers 'pastor'? We're about the only Christian group which doesn't use that term. I occasionally hear it applied to elders, but I've not seen them do much real pastoring." * * * A "pastor" is a spiritual "shepherd." In the Bible, spiritual shepherding basically means leading (by example) and feeding (by teaching). We see … [Read more...]

PASTORS, ELDERS & PREACHERS – 1

A gracEmail reader writes, "Why do Churches of Christ not call their preachers 'pastor'? We're about the only Christian group which doesn't use that term. I occasionally hear it applied to elders, but I've not seen them do much real pastoring." * * * Churches of Christ have traditionally taught that the positions of "pastors" and "elders" are the same in the New Testament. Because their … [Read more...]

LEADING OR LORDING

A gracEmail subscriber in the Southwest has a church leader who forbids single Christians of opposite sex ever to ride together unaccompanied in a car, claiming Hebrews 13:17 as his authority to issue such commands. And an Indiana subscriber, who decided to leave a church he considers legalistic for one which more clearly preaches the gospel, received a letter from his former church elders … [Read more...]

ELDER SELECTION & TENURE

An Alabama brother asks whether church elders serve for life or for a lesser term. "What if a candidate insists on binding his opinions on others? Can that disqualify him, or must there be a moral reason? Can one objector prevent a candidate's appointment? How can an unqualified elder be removed?" * * * The man who is self-willed, hungry for power, demanding and harsh is not the proper person to … [Read more...]

AUTHORITY OF ELDERS

A Church of Christ brother asks about the role and powers of congregational elders. "Do elders have any authority, or does it belong to the church as a whole? Can they force submission in matters of opinion?" * * * The New Testament portrays an "elder" (the Greek word is presbyteros, from which come our English words "presbyter," "presbyterian" and "priest") as a mature Christian who, because of … [Read more...]

A WELL-SUITED SHEPHERD

A gracEmail subscriber who serves as a spiritual shepherd in his church asks whether the passage 1Timothy 3:4-5 means that he should step down from that role because his teen-age child has, for three years, had a bad attitude and has acted out in disruptive and inappropriate ways. The child's parents have lovingly dealt with the situation as best they knew, and are now about to administer tough … [Read more...]

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP (5)

For the past several gracEmails, we have been considering three fundamental truths of spiritual leadership.(1) Spiritual leadership involves lowly service, not legal power. We must not confuse spiritual leadership with political position. (2) Spiritual leaders exercise grace-gifts from God, not worldly qualifications. We dare not focus on worldly achievements when choosing spiritual leaders. (3) … [Read more...]

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP (4)

The mission of spiritual leadership is the transformation of God's people into the likeness of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:7-16). It is not to construct buildings, create programs, attract crowds or to build an institution. Further, the transformation of human beings is a supernatural result, which cannot be achieved through mere human planning or power. It requires supernatural means, in the form of … [Read more...]

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP (3)

What does spiritual leadership look like, when one realizes that it involves lowly service and not legal power? Paul describes its conduct under three different circumstances: correcting a wrongdoer; encountering a controversialist and dealing with a divisive person. If required to correct a fellow-Christian who is doing wrong, the person who thinks he or she has legal power will usually be … [Read more...]