Authority: Bottom Leads

Pernell from the FRWY asked a question on his blog a bit ago, and got some interesting responses. Some of them are along the lines of what I was saying about authority. This is the question he asked:

What should the role of the pastor be in this new culture in which we find ourselves? Or what characteristics or attributes should they have? What skills? What is important to you in terms of who leads your community of faith?

I thought I would post some of the responses that I liked and tease them out a bit.

to model loving God and loving each other in the community we find ourselves.
Posted by: wilsonian | Friday, November 04, 2005 at 11:23 PM

Hmmmm. Not sure I can answer that one clearly. I think we need to clarify between the old shepherd/sheep, I’ve got the answers/you’ve got the questions model to something a little more egalitarian. Along the lines of head seeker, fellow sheep who happens to take the point, etc.
Of course, this kind of conversation tends to open up the whole can of worms over whether or not these can be temporary positions, paid positions, etc. They tend to bore me, but they come up.
One other thought: Personally I’m drawn more to “reluctant leaders”. I’d be afraid of anyone who really wanted the job!

Posted by: Mike | Saturday, November 05, 2005 at 12:49 PM

if they like being called “pastor” i’m lookin elsewhere – the more they look like Jesus, the more they’re on. keep on tour guiding. ‘ deeply appreciate your .. whatever it’s called.
Posted by: steve | Sunday, November 06, 2005 at 02:17 PM

Someone who is willing to admit their faults and strengths. Someone who is able to say “I get lost too sometimes. I too get distracted and don’t always do the right thing”. Someone who will say “i was wrong and i’m sorry”.
Posted by: Kristen | Monday, November 07, 2005 at 12:46 AM

pulpit? if the pulpit was the primary vehicle to preach and teach the good news in the modern age, where is, or better yet, what is the pulpit in the postmodern era and beyond? how will we communicate the good news? where will it happen? and i’m not talking sure fire model that will be necessarily adaptable in every time and space, i’m just insanely curious (and hopeful) as to who and what God will use…
on a related note, i’ve got a hunch that this new era of church will also usher in and empower and new breed of clergy. where in the past this type of believer was sidelined due to the fact that the letters r.e.v. didn’t appear before their name…a royal priesthood if you will…a new age where the best and truest ‘ministry’ is done by all, not just the professional. these are the ‘pastors’ i’m most interested in…

Posted by: joe | Tuesday, November 08, 2005 at 01:36 AM

These posts help center in on more what I think a pastor’s job is. Not an authoritative, bossy role. I think that I have made my point in that I don’t think that an authority structure within the church is the way it is supposed to be. When talking about church and leadership structure, my friend Joe said something really good. He was putting a list together of the order the church should look and it looked something like this.

Ministry Leaders

Did you notice that pastors are at the bottom? Instead of the structure working its way up like an authority structure it is set up it works the opposite way. It works its way down where the people at the bottom of the list are charged with serving everyone above them and so forth. I think I’m done talking about authority. Maybe I need to move on to leadership and try and understand better how that will look. Authority as we know it in the western culture should not be found within the church. Christ came to bring a new Kingdom whose authority structure is much different than that of the worlds. The authority looks like a tree; with Christ as the vine and everyone else the branches. Or like a bride, with Christ as the husband.

6 thoughts on “Authority: Bottom Leads”

  1. Somehow I’m reminded of this quote from the “Sem-Pelagian Narrower Catechism:”

    35. Q: What meaneth ‘The Priesthood Of All Believers’?

    A: The Priesthood Of All Believers meaneth that there exists no authority in the Church, as that falsely thought to be held by elders, presbyters, deacons, and bishops, but that each individual Christian acts as his own authority in all matters pertaining to the faith.”

    Personally I think that in this age of individualism we ought to be careful not to imply certian things about the Priesthood of All Believers that aren’t explicitly formulated in scripture.

  2. Tom. Thank-you for that post.

    Good to hear what our fathers have to say on the matter.

    Maybe I’m not as ‘postmodern’ as people think i am.

  3. Nate,

    No problem.

    However the “Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism” is actually a mock-up of the beliefs of Christians these days; what I call “Baptistic Americana.”

    Before we can say what the average layperson can and cannot do within the church we must first outline the implecations of the Priesthood of all Believers. Care to take a stab??


  4. I have to say that everyone has their own opinions. At different churches they have different policies. You have to realize that the priest relies on everyone else in the church as much as they rely on him. Without the people it’s hard to say how a priest should act within the church. My opinion will be different then someone elses because of my influences and enviornment. It’s a good thing that there are many priests because they all share their ideals and teachings with others. If there was only one person who would preach to us then it would be like a singer in a contest without any competition. We have the luxury to choose who to listen to or not listening to anyone at all. I feel tired so I’ll be sleeping now.

  5. Hey Tom, I just read the “Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism” it was quite funny actually, mostly because much of it is true.

    However, trying to define what the preisthood of all beleivers might be a good idea. not something i can attempt rightnow with out some kind of study, but your right that needs to be one of the next steps.

    I think also that I need to try and understand leadership structure also in the church, because by saying they don’t have authority i’m not trying to displace leadership, but i’m trying to reunderstand what that is. So i can’t just pull authority away from them and then leave them with nothing. Leadership in the church and understanding it is going to be one of the next topics i tackle.

  6. Hey Nathan,

    The Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism is quite funny, I certianly agree. I like the part about the “Helmet of dispensationalism.”

    Authority in the church is interesting. In reading the Bible I’ve come to realize that whatever form of church government you espouse (Presbyterian, Congregational, Episcopal, etc) relationships are the most important thing. No one in the NT was recognized as being a leader by mere virtue of the fact that he was an apostle, elder, et al. There was always a relationship.

    Let me put it this way, let’s say you were my minister. My respect for you, obedience or whatever wouldn’t come from the fact that you’re a “Reverend.” It would come from the fact that there’s a relationship there that would tell me that you have my best interests in mind and can therefore be trusted. But that’s just my thought.

    As a former sufferer, I can vouch that mono is no good, especially in school. I had to leave in the middle of exams because of it at Tyndale. So I’ll pray for you.



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