ONE MAN MINISTRY
By David Pryor; Independent Baptist Missionary to Paraguay, S.A.
See his web page at http://www.pryors.net/
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” – Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
By searching the Scriptures, we’ve discovered an undeniable truth about God’s design for His church. That truth is that there is to be a plurality of elders overseeing each church. There is no such thing in Scripture as the one-man ministry of a lone pastor.
So, what will we do with this truth we’ve “stumbled over”? Are we going to continue on in our false assumptions as if nothing happened? Or, are we going to submit ourselves to God’s truth?
We may be tempted to justify continuing on with one-man ministry by claiming that we are following God’s design:
· We could point to our use of associate pastors, youth ministers, etc. as examples that we do have a plurality of “full-time” workers in the church. But, these aren’t elders who have equal authority.
NOTE: Remember how all the apostles and elders ruled on the question of the gentiles having to keep the Law of Moses (Acts ch. 15)? This was not an associational meeting of pastors from different churches deciding a doctrinal issue; it was the leadership of only one church, the church at Jerusalem.
· We could lament that it’s hard enough to find one man to pastor a church, let alone several. This is especially true in a new church that’s just being planted. Therefore, we conclude, we must be content with only one pastor in such situations.
Yet Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles and a master church-planter, was able to appoint elders in every church. Surely, the same Holy Spirit who enabled Paul’s ministry can do so for ours today.
Frankly, this issue of how to run the Lord’s church is not one to be taken lightly. To understand just how important the church is to the Lord, we should read Ephesians chapter 5. There we are told that the marriage relationship pictures Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church (Eph. 5:25):
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
With such great importance placed on the church, should we be satisfied with only partially obeying the Lord’s design for it? Or, should we not rest until we’re obeying totally and completely? Let’s search the Scriptures once more to see just how God views partial obedience (1 Sam 15:22-23):
“…Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…”
How will we respond to this truth we’ve discovered concerning one-man ministry? Will we be like King Saul who “feared the people, and obeyed their voice” (1 Sam. 15:24)?
Or, will we be like John the Baptist who said of Jesus and His church (John 3:29-30):
“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
I’ve come to the point where I earnestly want God’s full blessings on my life, family and ministry. So, I’m willing to exchange my assumptions for God’s truth concerning His church. I want to forsake partial obedience in favor of complete obedience. How about you?
True, it won’t be an easy path for us to follow. Some of our fellow-workers in the “Ministry” may even reject us simply because a plurality of elders isn’t “Baptist”. But, it is “Biblical”, and we must be true to our Lord and Savior, not men and their traditions.
With our assumptions cleared away and the truth in their place, may everything we do in the church from this point forward be done through total obedience to the Word of God, and for His glory alone.
“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
– Eph. 3:21