I had to write a short paper on biblical eldership for a class called Introduction to Research. I decided to research the question of pastoral responsibilities and administration related to the use of the ÎµÏ€Î¯ÏƒÎºÎ¿Ï€Î¿Ï‚ word group (“overseer”) in Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:1-2. In these two passages, the authors use the noun ÎµÏ€Î¯ÏƒÎºÎ¿Ï€Î¿Ï‚ (“overseer”) and the verb ÎµÏ€Î¹ÏƒÎºÎ¿Ï€ÎÏ‰ (“oversee”) respectively to help define the functions and responsibilities of the Ï€ÏÎµÏƒÎ²ÏÏ„ÎµÏÎ¿Ï‚ (elder). I concluded that these two terms do not indicate that elders function as “administrators,” but that they should care for and guard the people from false teachers.
Is this important, or is it semantic gymnastics? To me, it is very important. An organization or an institution requires an administrator. But, Scripture does not describe the church as an organization or institution. Instead, Scripture describes the church as a community of people. People do not need administrators. Instead, according to Luke and Peter, people need to be cared for and protected.
If this is correct, then God requires pastors to care for and protect HIS flock. God does not require pastors to handle administrative responsibilities. If a “church” asks a pastor to take on responsibility for managing the organization, that is outside the bounds of Scripture. If a pastor does not handle administrative responsibilities well, it is NOT because he is not fulfilling his responsibilities as a pastor. There may be other responsibilities (responsibilies expected by the “church” or taken on by himself) that he is not fulfilling, but these responsibilities are not related to his function as a pastor.
What do you think?