Pastors/Elders/Overseers – Entrusted Leaders of the Church
Overseer (Greek – episkopos) means “a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly; any curator; guardian or superintendent.”
Overseers (also called Elders and Pastors) are the male leaders of the church (1 Tim 3:1-7). By the term “male” we are not meaning any old guy, but simply manly men. By manly men, we don’t mean those who can punch the hardest, grow the most facial hair, bench press over 300LBS, make the most money, argue the best, or get their own way no matter what. The Apostle Paul clearly teaches that manly men are those who have strong prayer lives (1 Tim 2:8), are a clear example of being a servant (1 Pet 5:2-3), and are practically responsible in leading their homes and in the work place (1 Tim 3:4-7). The following is why we believe that Scripture teaches only the best of Jesus‘ men should serve as Overseers.
- God made humanity male and female, which means that men and women are equal yet different (Gen 1:26-27).
- The senior spiritual leadership of God’s people in the Old Testament was comprised of male priests.
- Jesus chose twelve men as his apostles, although he befriended, loved, taught, honored, healed, and included women in his ministry, he did not place them in a senior position of leadership.
- In 1 Tim 2:11-3:5, Paul first states that women should learn doctrine and theology which was brand new in the days of the early church. Apparently, the women in Ephesus were behaving in a disrespectful fashion during church gatherings. They were much like their Christian sisters in Corinth (1 Cor 14:33-35) whom Paul likewise commanded to be respectful toward church leadership. Paul added two requirements for the Ephesian women who wanted to learn theology and doctrine; quietness (not silence) and submissiveness (respect of the church leadership carried out by the male Overseers).
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, emphatically commanded that women should not teach or have authority over men in the church. Thus, ruling out women from the position of overseer- who’s job includes such things as, ruling and leading the church, managing the church, rightly exercising authority in the church, teaching the bible correctly, preaching, teaching sound doctrine and refuting false teachings (these last 3 do not mean only Overseers can preach, teach, and refute false teachings. It means preaching, teaching, and refuting false teachings from the authoritative stance of leading the church), disciplining unrepentant Christians within the church, and developing other leaders and teachers. These are just some of the qualifications which are impossible to carry out without having authority over some and being able to teach them. Thus, by the scriptures, we conclude that only Jesus’ best men are to be Overseers in the church.
According to the Bible, former theological training is not required for Overseers though such training can indeed be beneficial. A salary is also not required though Overseers are worth an honorable wage (1 Tim 5:17-18). Overseers are not ultimately nominated by committees or congregational votes but called by God himself. Paul tells Overseers that “the Holy Spirit has made you Overseers.” (Acts 20:28). Once called by God, a man must then examine his own life and family to see if he meets the qualifications. If he does not, an appropriate season of growing, studying, repentant living, and transformation is required before there is any talk of him becoming an overseer. Typically this will be done under the mentoring of the Overseers as he serves in ministry roles in the church.There are two major parts in scripture that gives us the qualifications for Overseers, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.Primarily, these passages are dealing with the overseer being a good Christian who follows Jesus with every aspect of his life. This is what we are all called and empowered to do. Unfortunately, many Overseers/pastors/elders sacrifice the health of their families, wives, personal relationship with Jesus, relationships with neighbors, etc at the expense of being a good overseer. Simply, this is sin. You are not a good overseer by sacrificing following Jesus at the expense of proclaiming the gospel and training others to follow Jesus. This does not and will not work in the church.
DUTIES OF OVERSEERS
Pray and study Scripture (Acts 6:4)
Ruling/leading the church (1 Tim 5:17)
Managing the church (1 Tim 3:4-5)
Caring for the people in the church (1 Pet 5:2-5)
Live exemplary lives (Heb 13:7)
Rightly using the authority God has given them (Acts 20:28)
Teaching the Bible correctly (Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 3:2)
Preaching (1 Tim 5:17)
Praying for the sick (James 5:13-15)
Teaching sound doctrine and refuting false teachings (Titus 1:9)
Working hard (1 Thess 5:12)
Rightly using money and power (1 Peter 5:1-3)
Protecting the church from false teachers (Acts 20:17-31)
Disciplining unrepentant Christians (Matt 18:15-17)
Obeying the secular laws as a legal ruling body of a corporation (Rom 13:1-7)
Giving account to God for the church (Heb 13:17)
Developing other leaders and teachers. (Eph 4:11-16; 2 Tim 2:1-2)
FIRST AMONG EQUALS
The Specific responsibilities of the team of Overseers will vary according to gifting and personality. We believe there should be one man who is the leader of the Overseers, the “first among equals” overseer. We see this in Scripture by the role that Peter fulfilled among the apostles (Acts 1:15-22; 2:14-40; Matt 16:18). Many resist seeing leadership as a team effort, while others resist believing leadership within the overseer team is biblical. We believe that for any overseer team to function effectively, it must have a called, qualified, gifted, devoted, humble, and competent senior leader who leads the overseer team and helps guard the gate for new Overseers joining the team to ensure unity and success. To do his job, that man must not be offered blind obedience or given complete unaccountable authority. Rather, he must have the freedom, trust, authority, respect, honor, and support of the Overseers and other church leaders to actually lead the church. If not, there can be no leadership; leaders will no longer lead the entire church working on behalf of the best interests of the gospel, but they will become representatives of various agendas, departments, factions, and programs in the church. Without a senior leader, dissension will come as people fight over resources; there will not be decisions but compromises, which are the death of a church. As a general rule, the best person to hold the position of first among equals is the primary preaching Overseer. 1 Timothy 5:17 says “Let the elders (greek- episkopos) who rule well be considered of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” While all Overseers deserve respect and honor, the primary preaching Overseer is worthy of double honor. The pulpit is the most visible place of exorcised authority in the church and is where most criticism and opposition is focussed.