I want to use this column to show my appreciation for our “pastors” here at South Side. Before I do, let me deal with several thoughts that may already be running through your mind.
Maybe you are thinking—I thought that “Pastor Appreciation” was October. Well, it might be in the denominational world, but we are anti-denominational. If you don’t know what that means, ask me later. We should appreciate “pastors” ALL year long!
Then you may also be thinking that I am simply writing an article to appreciate myself. That wouldn’t be a very humble attitude to have! But according to the New Testament, I am not a “pastor”. And if that isn’t shocking enough to you, read on.
You may be thinking also—I thought South Side only had one “pastor”. Even if I was a “pastor”, I would not be THE “pastor”. At South Side we don’t have just one “pastor”, we have six! Yes, you read that number right—SIX! In fact, if we only had one “pastor”, we would not be biblical. In the New Testament church, there was always a plurality of “pastors”.
South Side is a people of the Book. South Side calls Bible things by Bible names; and does Bible things in Bible ways. That is why at South Side, we do not follow the popular view of “THE pastor” run church. Just because everyone else is doing it, does not make it biblical! Rather at South Side we try to go back and restore the pattern for church leadership from the New Testament. That is why we have six “pastors”. These “pastors” are the shepherds of the flock. These “pastors” are the overseers of the body of Christ. These “pastors” are, if you haven’t guessed it already, the elders of the church.
So when I think of “pastor appreciation”, I think of our group of elders. I think of how much they should be appreciated by us (and not just during the month of October).
The New Testament is very clear on the subject of the eldership in the church. These “pastors” are best described by the terms used in the New Testament.
* Elders—Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2; I Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; I Peter 5:1
* Bishops (Overseers)—Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:2; I Peter 2:25
* Pastors (Shepherds)—Ephesians 4:11
All of these terms are referring to the same function! I love the way Luke describes the function of the “pastors” from Ephesus. In Acts 20:17, Luke writes, “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.” Notice he calls the “pastors” “elders” in the text. Then talking to the same group of men (the elders from Ephesus), Luke records for us in Acts 20:28, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd (or pastor) the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” In this verse Luke records the words of the Apostle Paul as he refers to the elders as “overseers” who are to “shepherd” (or pastor) the church of God.
The Apostle Peter then uses all three terms in his first epistle to describe the elders. Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd (or pastor) the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. (I Peter 5:1–3)
With all that said, I am very thankful for all six of our “pastors”. They are very godly men. I am very honored to serve with them at South Side. I take advantage of every opportunity that I can to spend time with them. We are all very blessed to have them as our “pastors”, “elders”, and “overseers”.
Let me encourage you to show your appreciation for our “pastors” also. Here are a few things that you can do:
* Pray for them DAILY!
* Encourage them every chance you get!
* Remember, they are mere men, and do make mistakes.
* Allow them to pastor the flock—they have the desire to do so!
* Remember they are a team—a group. They are united. No one elder is the “head” elder. The chief “pastor” is Jesus (I Peter 5:4).
Lawrence, Larry, Denny, Dick, Myreon and Len: Thanks for your service for the Lord here at South Side. Thank you for leading us by your examples. We appreciate all of you men serving as our “pastors”.
Your evangelist (Ephesians 4:11),