TC Robinson has a post “The Pastor: Obstacle to every member functioning”. He has raised a question in the blogosphere that has more of us thinking. It provoked something in me that saddens me because I think it is true. For many of the pastor-centric churches/congregations, the pastor has been an obstacle to a properly functioning congregation.
TC’s quote from Pagan Christianity by Viola and Barna says that the modern day pastor is an easy target—a punching bag, if you will:
THE PASTOR. He is the fundamental figure of the Protestant faith. So prevailing is the pastor in the minds of most Christians that he is often better known, more highly praised, and more heavily relied upon than Jesus Christ Himself!
Remove the pastor and most Protestant churches would be thrown into a panic. (pp. 105-6, Pagan Christianity, emphasis mine)
The early church did not have pastors or priests like we do today but the church was able to function. The people held on to their faith in Christ and died in the name of Jesus Christ. The church didn’t die but prevailed in the face of persecution, trials and tribulations. Did the early church have sermons and teaching? Or prayers? Liturgy? Or hymns and songs? Probably, but they were not officiated by the pastor/priest. The laity or the people presided over the worship services way before there was ever a pastor as we know today.
The bible mentions shepherds, overseers, elders and deacons, but my question is what positional authority did these positions include? If we removed the position and authority of the pastor as we know it today, would the church begin to function like it should–as a priesthood of all believers?