The title of “senior pastor” in today’s church has in many ways betrayed the intent of the Biblical role of a pastor/elder/bishop within the leadership of the modern church. Too often there is a centralizing of influence/power in the life of one man for the care, direction, teaching, and vision-casting for a church. In the early church we see a plurality of leadership expressed within a group of godly men acting as shepherds in the church called pastor/elder/bishop. Within the office of pastor/elder/bishop there is no indication of final rank.
Each pastor/elder/bishop is an equal among equals. While it is true that there may be an aspect of seniority organizationally (i.e. a pastor may be accountable to another pastor in an organizational function or a pastor/elder/bishop may have oversight and the freedom to create, plan, lead within an area of the church) we are concerned that the title “senior pastor” has concentrated too much ministry responsibility in the life of one man. While it is true that vocational pastors will have a very strong influence and directional impact on a church since they have more time to devote to ministry, the New Testament is clear that there is no “seniority” among elders/pastors/bishops and we feel that a title like “senior pastor” actually hinders the Biblical intent of pastoral leadership.
We believe that a single pastor having essential authority over the other pastors does not represent what the Bible teaches. It also shows a lack of wisdom within the expression of church leadership — how can one man care for, disciple, teach, and equip all the people of a church? Therefore, we have decided to not have a designation of rank among our pastors since it helps us to model the Biblical structure of leadership.
Posted in: Leadership