The Simplicity of Biblical Polity

A “senior pastor” is one elder among many (as Peter, Paul, and the unnamed elders were at the Jerusalem Council, Acts 15:23) and has no extraordinary authority.* Unfortunately, some—usually large—presbyterian churches become de facto staff-led rather than elder-led. The senior pastor becomes the CEO leading (pastoring?) the large and powerful ordained and unordained staff. The modern notion of “vision casting” sometimes seeps in from the wider evangelical megachurch milieu, giving the top man even more supposed authority. It is an open question whether the megachurch model can remain (or ever be) Presbyterian in any real sense.

Large churches, with the best of intentions, find simplicity almost impossible to retain. They almost inevitably become service providers and more (not worship) services are added thanks to abundant funding and facilities…which must be used! Churches have complicated organizational charts that resemble those of civil governments, institutions, or corporations. A church with an HR department has probably become too large to be effectively governed on Presbyterian principles.

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Brad Isbell | “The simplicity of biblical polity” | May 9th, 2023


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