1 Timothy 5:17 states: ” Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching.”
When we think of the ministry of “pastor” we immediately think of the local church and the leader of that church usually referred to as the pastor. However, we are studying and blogging on the fivefold ministry and so the Ephesians 4:11 list of fivefold ministry roles, including pastor, is referring to a trans-local gifting of pastor.
Like the other fivefold ministers this gift of pastor also travels from place to place equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. Their task is not to be the pastor but to teach the people, the priesthood of all believers, to give pastoral care to one another. There are 59 “one another” verses in the New Testament and only through an active ‘body ministry” (see 1 Corinthians 12) can all the needs of the people be effectively and fully met.
God never intended for a local church to be run (and often controlled and manipulated) by a solo leader called a pastor. There are no local pastors in the local churches in the New Testament. The life of the local church is in the hands of the “elders” as we see stated in 1 Timothy 5:17 above.
The fivefold pastor comes in, like all of the other fivefold ministers, to train and equip the saints so that they can do the work of the ministry. In this case, caring for one another. Being a pastor is not an office or position. It is a calling from the Lord to travel trans-locally and equip the church. Charles Simpson once wrote: “Being a pastor is not an office. If you are looking for an office, go downtown and rent on. Being a pastor is a call from the Lord!”
Fivefold pastors GUARD the sheep. They come in to a local church and help the people to see the needs and concerns of others. He teaches them how to care for one another and thus he guards the sheep from outside influences and from wolves rising up from within. He specifically finds the elder or elders who have a pastoral call upon their lives and begins to disciple and mentor them so that they can oversee the pastoral work in the local church. The fivefold pastor then teaches and trains them so that they can have good pastoral oversight over the people. He specifically looks at the eldership to see which elder or elders have the pastoral grace upon them to lead, train, and oversee in this area. He then works more directly and more in-depth with these “pastoral elders.”
It is the responsibility of the local “pastoral elders” to protect and guard the flock. It is their responsibility to provide protection, support, love, and care. But, again, they are not doing all the ministry – they are overseeing the pastoral work in the local church. The people do the pastoring, caring for one another as each is a minister and has gifts that they can use as they are released and given permission to touch lives for Jesus and in His Name.
The work of the local pastoral elders is set out in 1 Peter 5:1-4. It states, “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
The role of the pastoral elders then are:
1> Shepherd God’s flock as they give direction, protection, and correction.
2> Serve as overseers as they watch out for the spiritual wellbeing and health of the people of God. They are guardians of the flock.
3> They are willing servants not because they must but because they desire to be.
4> They are not paid to do it and have no love for money and are not controlled or ruled by greed.
5> The pastoral elders do not lord it over people or attempt to control and manipulate them.
6> They are examples that others will want to emulate.
They are truly under-shepherds serving under Jesus who is the Head of the Church. It is a call from God – elders are not elected or appointed – they are called by God to oversee the life of the local church.
The fivefold ministry of pastor then comes in to train and equip the people in giving adequate and good pastoral care. He comes in under the authority of the local elders. And, he also notes which elder or elders has a pastoral call or edge to them and begins to train and equip them to be the leaders in pastoral care so that they can give oversight and further training to the people after he leaves to go and minister elsewhere.