August 17, 2009

Lording it Over

I've been getting dragged into house church discussions again (when I REALLY need to be doing my research instead) but I just read a great post on ecclesiology over at Alan Knox's blog and responded tangentially in the comments. My point - the scripture does not describe pastors (or overseers or elders) as the directors of corporate activity. Then I had a brand new thought about things...

If anyone provides leadership in the body of Christ, they do a great thing, providing a wonderful service for both God and the saints. But if someone leads constantly, or exclusively, or holds permanent veto power over all decisions, then by definition I think we need to realize that such a person IS (de facto) "lording it over" the people of God. It doesn't matter one bit whether their style is gracious or domineering. If you give all the orders, or permit all the orders, then you have, in practice, assumed the position of an earthly lord.

For all practical purposes, this applies just as well to a team of leaders. If the Holy Spirit isn't allowed to direct the church into some type of corporate activity through each, any and every member of the body, then you've got overlords. But personally, I do think Ephesians 4 makes an exception for a very young church. Before she reaches corporate maturity, a gathering absolutely needs extra-strong, top-down leadership.

This may not mean 90% of established churches are unscriptural. This may only mean 90% of established churches are wired for deliberate, permanent immaturity. And for overlords.


Alan Knox said...


I replied to your comment. I agree with your statements. There was a typo in my original post. I do not think that Scripture teachers that elders (or anyone else) should exercise authority over other believers. While elders (and others) lead, scriptural leading is not based on authority, but service. We lead as we serve one another.


Bill Heroman said...

Alan, I like ya. I think you're a good brother. And I love what you're doing. But I'm still getting confused by your terms.

According to you, scripture teaches that elders should NOT exercise authority over other believers.

Practically speaking, how does one give directions without telling people what to do? Does "Lead" no longer mean "stand up in front of people and direct them in group activity"?

I like Leadership. I'm willing to consider it "authoritative", in such terms, technically. I don't think human beings can do anything together without one of us saying, "Hey, let's do such and such." And the others follow.

I like Leading. I just think that, once the whole church has been trained, we need to rotate and share it. And I don't think those who are good at leading must also necessarily be qualified as elders.

Btw, I do think the verses in 1 Tim & Hebrews probably do show that Elders sometimes also lead. But they do not show that *all* Elders necessarily lead. They also do not designate whether such leading comes before or after the word "until" in Ephesians 4.

Alan Knox said...


I do think we're having problems communicating - or perhaps its just my problem. Because, when I read your questions, I keep thinking, "I'm not saying that and I don't believe that."

For example, I don't think Scripture instructs elders to exercise authority over others. I don't think Scripture instructs elders to "stand up in front of people and direct them in group activity."

The idea of rotating and sharing leading sounds great to me! I'm all for it! In fact, even though I'm an elder in the church, I'm not always the person leading, nor am I always in a group that is leading.

I also agree with you interpretation of 1 Thess and Heb regarding elders and leaders.

So, I think somehow I'm not communicating my position very well.


Bill Heroman said...

It takes two people to miscommunicate, and I'm sorry for my part in that. Thanks for stating so clearly what we agree on. I have been hearing great things about you, you know. ;-)

By the way, I hope you didn't think my whole post here was against what you were saying. I had some other conversations this weekend and today that had my brain on a hair trigger... and hopefully my spirit... and I just shot off on a tangent.

See you down the road.

Thanks again. :-)

Sarah said...

LOL about "dragged into house church conversations."

You picked up the phone first, as I recall. :P

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