It’s a short post, and it primarily consists of Eric asking the two questions from the title: 1) Should churches have pastors? and 2) Why?
I told Eric in the comments that I thought this was a very good pair of questions and that I wanted to think about them before I answered. This post is my answer.
First, pastoring is a spiritual gift. You can see this most easily in Ephesians 4:11 where “pastors” (those gifted with the spiritual gift of pastoring/shepherding) are listed along with other spiritually gifted people in a context that is about the gifts that Jesus gives. Since Paul said that God arranged the members of the body (speaking specifically of “members” as people with certain spiritual gifts), then if a church needs someone gifted in pastoring, then God will so arrange it. (Of course, this doesn’t discount the fact that every believer is responsible for pastoring – caring for each other – even when they are not so gifted, just as ever believer is responsible for teaching even if they are not spiritually gifted as teachers and every believers is responsible for encouraging even if they are not spiritually gifted as an encourager.)
However, Eric was not talking about the spiritual gift of pastoring. He explains in this excerpt (and then again in the comments):
When I use the term “pastor,” I’m thinking from a biblical as opposed to a traditional perspective. Â As the bible describes pastors/elders/overseers, should churches have them?
So, Eric is asking, “Should church have pastors/elders/overseers? and Why?” Since Eric said “biblical as opposed to a traditional perspective,” I will have to give a quick overview of my understanding of elders. Elders/overseers are older people within the church who have been recognized by the church because of their faith and life in Christ. They primarily serve as examples to others in the church in how to trust Christ and how to live for him by serving others. (Note: These people do not start living a certain way because they are elders/overseers. Instead, the church should recognize those who are already living in a manner worthy of Christ.)
We should recognize that churches existed before elders/overseers were recognized. We see this especially in Acts 14:26, but we probably also see it in 1 Timothy and Titus (depending on when you choose to date those books). So, elders/overseers are not necessary for a group of people to be a church.
Instead, after a group of people are already a church – for a long enough time that they know one another and have observed one another’s livers – then elders/overseers are recognized by the church.
However, it seems that elders/overseers are beneficial to the church when they serve as examples in faith and service. In fact, most of the instructions to or about elders/overseers teach that people do not simply become elders/overseers because of their age, but because of their character, care for others, service to others, and faith in Christ.
I believe it is in this (character, care for others, service to others, and faith in Christ) that we find the benefit of a church recognizing elders/overseers.
So, should churches have pastors/elders/overseers? Why? Yes, if there are mature believers who can be recognized for their faith in Christ and service to others and who live in a way that presents a good example of following Christ that others can follow.