This is the second installment on a two-part series on our church structure. You can find the first part here.
In the first post, I looked at what the Bible has to say concerning how a local church should be structured. I believe that the consistent pattern of Scripture is that local churches are lead by a team of pastors, not merely one guy at the top. Now, I want to look at the practical benefits of having a team of pastors lead the church.
The Practical Benefits of Having a Team of Pastors Lead the Church
First, a team of elders balances of the weaknesses of an any particular elder (Remember, “pastor” and “elder” are interchangeable terms). Our culture loves the idea that you can be omni-competent—good at everything. But that is just not true. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. When you surround yourself as a pastor with other godly men who have different strengths from your own and different giftings than your own, you can more adequately minister to the body of Christ.
Second, a team of elders gets more done. Rather than having one guy oversee the whole church, which is a quite impossible task I would say for a church larger than 50, multiple elders can oversee the church and make sure that the ministry of the church is well-rounded. Too often, having one single senior pastor will skew the church according to the senior pastor’s strengths and gifting. For example, the senior pastor may place a high value on verse-by-verse Bible teaching. But he may be weak on mission. What do you think the church will look like? Probably having lots of people who know a lot of Bible but don’t evangelize.
Third, it checks pride in the pastors. Pastors need to have other godly men who can say “no” to them and shoot down their ideas. If a pastor’s power cannot be limited, well, you already know the quote on the corrupting influence of absolute power. It’s amazing to me that our Founding Fathers saw the importance of providing checks and balances of power in our government, yet many churches do not follow such practical (and biblical!) wisdom.
Fourth, it gives power back to the people, not the professionals. If the locus of leadership in the church is found in the elders as a whole, then it gives the congregation more power. Because most of the elders will not be paid by the church. Therefore, they will be much more in tune with the needs and desires of “normal” church-goers, who are not “professional” ministers.
Fifth, it provides stability for the church. If the “senior pastor” abruptly leaves, or commits grave sin and is removed, the church is in crisis. Having a team of leaders, however, can help the church weather the storm of having a high-profile leader leave. If your church falls apart when the senior pastor leaves, you’re doing it wrong.
Objection: Too much plurality makes change harder to enact and can keep the church spinning its wheels. In other words, it is inefficient.
Another objection of the team of elders model of church governance is that it’s inefficient. For example, the more people who need to sign-off on a decision slows the decision making. Especially if a change is almost self-evidently obvious, it is detrimental to have plurality. Just make the decision!
Efficiency is overrated. Sure, there are times when change can be and should be implemented quickly, but many times, having to “fight” for a ministry or a change brings great benefits. When multiple leaders can weigh in on a decision, they can often provide constructive feedback and see blindspots that you didn’t. It also forces more precise thinking on a various issues and ministries. For example, a married elder with kids will examine a proposal for a new ministry through the lens of “How will this effect families in our church?” If the pastor is single, that can be an especially helpful question to grapple with.
I wrote this short series to hopefully answer some questions of why we do what we do at LBC. On a closing note, I want to express how much I love working in a church that has multiple pastors. It has been one of the greatest joys of my first year plus working here. It has kept me from acting rashly, making foolish decisions, saying stupid things, and derailing the work that God is doing in the church. I cannot commend the biblical model of a team of elders/pastors highly enough for a church.