The following article from Holy Bible Prophecy reminds me of the scripture III John 9b …”but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.” In other words, Diotrephes wanted all of the focus to be upon himself and he shunned the apostles!
Celebrity Pastor is not a Biblical Church Office
The New Testament lays the groundwork for a plurality of church leadership rather than that of a single celebrity pastor. In this article, we will examine the office of Celebrity Pastor which exists in Church Growth but not in the Bible.
Many have changed the definition of the pastor in order to destroy barriers to church growth and have absolute authority over their organizations. For example, Rick Warren says:
“You must change the primary goal of the pastor from minister to leader.” (source)
When asked, “Should we stop talking about pastors as ‘shepherds’?” Andy Stanley responded:
“Absolutely. That word needs to go away. . . It was culturally relevant in the time of Jesus, but it’s not culturally relevant any more. Nothing works in our culture with that model except this sense of the gentle, pastoral care. Obviously that is a face of church ministry, but that’s not leadership.” (source)
But the New Testament lays the groundwork for a plurality of church leadership rather than that of a single celebrity pastor. The Bible speaks of pastors, elders, bishops or overseers which all refers to the same office. Elders are also called “pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11) and “bishops” or “overseers” (Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5,7; 1 Timothy 3:1; Acts 20:17,28).
The word episkopos is translated as bishop and overseer in the context of the role of pastor or shepherd. Peter uses the term synonymously with the Greek word poimēn which is elsewhere translated as shepherd or pastor. “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). Pastors are also referred to as “elders” with the Greek word presbyteros which Peter describes as the role of pastors when he says, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:1,2). Additionally, Paul uses the terms “elders” (presbyteros) and “bishop” (episkopos) interchangeably: “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— … For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money.” (Titus 1:5,7)
Paul the Apostle encourages the elders at Ephesus in their pastoral and shepherding task when he says: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28) Notice Paul spoke about the plurality of overseers to shepherd or pastor the church. The same word for “overseer” is also translated as bishop when Paul again addresses a plurality of bishops to the church at Philippi: “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1). Notice this office is listed alongside a plurality of deacons. The qualifications of the elders and deacons is found in the pastoral epistles (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). Therefore, the two ongoing offices for the management and care of the New Testament Church are elders and deacons, both plural and not singular as in the example of the Celebrity Pastor of the Church Growth model.
Not only is the office of Celebrity Pastor an innovation of Church Growth, but the Scriptures speak of church leadership in a distinctly different way, not as lording over God’s flock. “Vision-casting” becomes the common practice of the pastor to lead the church and the congregation becomes fully accountable and completely loyal to the leader to fulfill his vision. Dissenters are excommunicated and often escorted from church premises by security or police officers. Mark Driscoll says,
“You cast vision for your mission and if people don’t sign up, you move on. . . There is a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus, and by God’s grace it will be a mountain by the time we’re done. You either get on the bus or you get run over by the bus. Those are the options. But the bus ain’t gonna stop. . . There’s people who get in the way of the bus, they gotta get run over. There are people who want to take turns driving the bus, they gotta get thrown off.” (source).
Perry Noble says,
“A leader should never allow doubters to dictate the direction of their ministry…when God speaks our obsession MUST be complete obedience!” (source)
Peter the Apostle says, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3) Paul also said, “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.” (2 Corinthians 1:24). The church growth model of leadership is unbiblical and worldly.
Jesus Himself said, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” (Mark 10:42-44). Church leaders are to take their cue from Jesus as a servant: “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.” (Luke 22:26).
It is easy to see how these celebrity pastors have set up a system within the megachurch in which their vision cannot be challenged and they are unaccountable to the Word of God. Discernment ministries are labeled as “extremist” or “haters.” (source)
Often, these churches have membership covenants with clauses that contractually obligate you to leave if you disagree. Many seeker-driven and Purpose Driven churches have membership covenants which can be used as legal documents to protect the pastor and leadership. For example, a confidentiality agreement must be signed by employees and anyone who wishes to “volunteer” at Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina which legally binds the volunteer to a non-disclosure agreement of “confidential information” such as the Church’s research, technical data and financial information. The volunteer acknowledges that any breach of the covenant on their part will entitle the church to pursue any and all legal remedies against them. (source).
In an article called “One Way to Increase the Commitment Level of your Members,” Warren says,
“When your congregation adopts a membership covenant, at least you’re choosing the kind of people that stay.” (source).
Warren then proivdes Saddleback’s Membership Covenant as an example. This idea of a Church Membership Covenant goes against the teaching of Christ on forbidding oaths: “do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne” (Matthew 5:34).
The type of people that are not welcome in these churches are those who would challenge the leadership with the Word of God or resist any kind of changes for church growth. Those who resist the changes necessary for monster growth must “change or die.” Rick Warren told pastors and church leaders:
“If your church has been plateaued for six months, it might take six months to get it going again. If it’s been plateaued a year, it might take a year. If it’s been plateaued for 20 years, you’ve got to set in for the duration! I’m saying some people are going to have to die or leave.
“Moses had to wander around the desert for 40 years while God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land. That may be brutally blunt, but it’s true. There may be people in your church who love God sincerely, but who will never, ever change.” (source)
Once again, the Church Growth movement and Celebrity Pastor model which is being embraced all throughout the professing Church has proven itself unbiblical and worldly. It’s time we get back to the faith once delivered to the saints as described in the New Testament.
Filed Under: Andy Stanley, Church Government, Church Growth, Elders, Leadership, Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Rick Warren, Steven Furtick, Vision Casting
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