I am an advocate of doing church simply and a believer in the God ordained pastoral calling. However, I realize that there are voices in organic, simple, house church movements who reject the roles or at least the position of a “pastor” as belonging to institutional church. (I spoke to my concern of pastoral clergy criticism in my blog post “Critics of Doing Church.”)
Here, I simply want to layout some biblical considerations when it comes to decisions regarding the implementation or function of pastoral leadership in your organic, simple, or house church ministry. Most simple church gatherings function with their own adapted dynamics, and that is fine, but in case you are searching for some balanced biblical insight on this subject, start with these considerations…
7 Biblical Considerations on the Ministry of a Pastor
1) In Ephesians 4:11 we see that pastors are given to the church as a gift of God, for the edifying sake of the body of Christ. If you have known some bad apples who wear the title of “pastor” don’t categorize all those in that calling as bad apples. Also, your organic, simple, or house church is still a church to whom God has given this gift.
2) In 1 Peter 5:1-2 we see that pastors are to have oversight over the affairs of the church, and that would include the local body of believers. They are to be shepherds of the flock, and an organic, simple, or house church ministry is an ideal setting for a man called of God to be a biblical shepherd, rather than a religious organization executive.
3) In Ephesians 4:11-12 we see that pastors are called to equip the saints, those in the church, and they are not called to focus on those outside of the church. John MacArthur has written “Pastors are not called to the culture, and we’re not called to the unconverted. We have been mandated to feed our flocks so they can grow spiritually. We’re called to serve the redeemed people of God as an agent of sanctification and protection. The measure of a man’s effectiveness in ministry is not the number of people in his congregation every week—it’s the Christlikeness of his congregation.”
4) In Acts 6:4 we see the Apostles devoted themselves to prayer and the teaching of the word of God. For a man called of God to a be the gift of “pastor and teacher” within the context of organic, simple, or house church is a great fulfillment of this principle, because there is no or nearly no care of budget or denominational protocol.
5) In Matthew 16:18 we see that Christ has promised to have in this world a church that He is building and it will not be destroyed or destructed by Satan and His evil schemes. If you think the institutional church is the enemy, you have given your thoughts over to the enemy. Most of us who advocate for organic, simple, or house church do so because of its methods and the institutional church is simply a method, like or it not, but don’t help Satan move his gates against the church by complaining against her. The church is the bride of Christ, and no groom will sit ideally by while their bride is being ridiculed.
6) In 2 Timothy 4:2 we see that preaching is God’s ordained means of presenting His word to His church. Preaching may be more of a conversational teaching style, as it is with me at CrossHope Chapel, but however you spin it, there ought to be formal preaching in the gathering of the saints, even in your organic, simple, or house church.
7) In 1 Corinthians 1:26 and Romans 11:29 we see that God has given us a calling to ministry on behalf of the church. There is both a corporate calling and an individual calling but one thing is sure, God has not recanted His plan to call men to pastoral ministry for the encouragement of His saints. I realize that some in organic church life decry anything that appears to them to be hierarchical in organizational structure, but that is God’s design. God does call individual men to rise up and live out the calling He has laid on them. God did not call the nation of Israel to get up and leave Egypt, God called Moses to get up and equip the nation of Israel to get up and leave Egypt. Throughout the narratives of the Bible we have that same repeated story line of God calling men to call mankind.
While the pastor in an organic, simple, or house church ministry context may be more chaplain-like than mega-church executive-like, I believe it is a ministry given by God to His universal church.
Please contact me if you have any questions, and do pray for you this week to be faithful in encouragement the sheep in your field to follow the Good Shepherd through whatever may come there way!