I entered ministry in 1996 vocationally. Every church I served had a board and/or a ton of committees that governed the affairs of the church. However, I had been used to the pastor guiding the spiritual direction of the church. These churches were not without their naysayers, but they followed the leadership of the pastor for the most part. These pastors also understood that Christ is the Head of the church. I rarely saw an abuse of power. They understood when Jesus introduced the concept of the church (“called out ones”) in Matthew 16:18, He said, “I will build MY church.”
In December 2012, I took my first pastorate and experienced the first conflict about who the Head of the church is. Five years prior to my arrival, they had a pastor who was biblically fulfilling his role. The chairman of deacons (man who tried to control things) did not like it and had a general consensus among the other deacons that they should call the shots and the pastor be at the end of their remote control. When all was said and done, they ran the pastor off and the church voted to be a “congregationally led church”. What that really meant was that every member was a congregation unto himself and could do what he wanted. I heard someone say that anything with more than one head is a freak. Such was the case. Any time a pastor would step out under the leadership of the Holy Spirit without a vote, the “powers that be” were quick to remind the pastor of the vote that took place in 2007.
In 2011, I visited Northwood Church in Summerville, SC. At that time, it was pastored by Fred Richard who recently retired after 40 years of pastoring Northwood. Northwood was a democracy when he arrived. They voted on everything. God taught Pastor Fred the concept of a theocracy (God-rule). He began to search the Scriptures and teach this to the people. They did what the New Testament church did and quit doing what it didn’t do. In the end, the church voted unanimously to give up its right to vote. God leads the pastor and elders, and they say like Paul said in I Corinthians 11:1 – “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Christ calls the shots, and everyone else gets in line.
I know that many may read this and disagree. Many of us don’t want to lose our power. We may not want to submit to the Lordship of Christ, or we may not trust the spiritual leaders God has placed in our life. A pastor who is truly led by God’s Spirit will lead you in the right direction. He will not be trying to execute his own agenda. As a pastor, I have a HUGE responsibility to receive the direction for the church straight from the One who gave His life for it – the Lord Jesus Christ. I will give an account of where I failed in that.
People may try to argue about the role of the pastor, but the Bible is crystal clear the Christ is the Head of the church. As long as “the church” is doing everything but following the rules of its commander in chief, it will fail. When it obeys the Commander, it is a healthy, vibrant organism that flourishes for God’s glory.