On his blog (Saturday, January 8, 2010 at 6:30 p.m.), Dave Black mentions a review of Strauch’s Biblical Eldership.
The reviewer agrees with many of Strauch’s conclusions, but disagrees with one point in particular. While Strauch argues against a “senior pastor” position, the reviewer believes a “senior pastor” positions is legitimized based on the roles of Timothy and Titus in the “pastoral epistles” and based on the angles of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.
One of the most important lessons in New Testament Introduction courses is a discussion of the so-called Pastoral Epistles, which, of course, were neither written to nor about pastors. It is clear, for example, that the church which Timothy was sent to serve (Ephesus) already had elders — Paul had met with them earlier in Miletus. As for Titus, he was charged with appointing elders in every city on Crete. As I have often said to my students, it is high time we put the term “Pastoral Epistles” out to pasture once and for all. As for the “angels” of the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3, considering the consistent use of the term angelos in the book of Revelation, it seems likely that the term is being used to refer to angelic beings in these 2 chapters.
It would seem, then, that the title of senior pastor is in fact inconsistent with the concept of the plurality of elders, assuming that the eldership is, as Strauch argues, non-hierarchical. In fact, I suggest that this is exactly what one would expect when one looks at the twelve apostles of our Lord, none of whom can be said to have held the position of “Senior Apostle.” Of course, one of them, Peter, was a spokesman of sorts for the others on many an occasion, but did this make the rest “Associate Apostles”?
Did you know that “senior pastor” is actually a valid title found in Scriputre? It’s true. It’s used in 1 Peter 5:4 – “chief shepherd” = “senior pastor.”