|Church Government Part 4 - Eldership Rule Part 2|
A Balanced Biblical View
This page is part 2 to Church Government Part 2 - Eldership Rule: Concerning the Shepherding Movement .
I recently came across 2 very interesting links, which help deal with the abuse of the Shepherding Movement and Elder Rule abuse. They are:
These are 2 great sites, which deal with the subject very well. However, there is some small doctrinal issues I have with them. And this is expected, because when you have abuse on one end, typically you see the correction swing to the other end of the spectrum, but often the truth is some where in the middle.
While I haven't read every single article there, they seem to disregard the doma gift of the pastor. For example right here:
The other site doesn't go the the extreme as this one, but instead deflates the pastor's role instead:
The reason this is important, this is one area I have seen where they agree with some of the abusive teachings. I have seen for example Randy Shankle deny the existence of the pastor gift, especially when he promotes his kingdom theology. But yet scripture lists the pastor as one of the 5 fold doma gifts:
8: Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
11: And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers
Now you could look up the word "pastor" in the Greek and use a Greek form of the word, or call it a Shepherd, but no matter what you call it, it exists.
However, how it exists is the problem. Institutional churches often make them the leader of the church, when this may not be the case in all situations. And what role does a pastor have? I would refer you to the role of elders on part one: Eldership Rule: Concerning the Shepherding Movement
But on this page, I would like to address in more detail where the line is for Church Rule, by pastors or any elders or doma ministers.
Elders, just like pastors, exist in scripture, and also from one of the websites above, they seem to make an elder just a wise older person who gives advice. This is seen here:
But there you see the similar creation of a doctrine that Randy Shankle has done; the making of a doctrine based solely on Greek Definition rather than on scripture.
Age should bring wisdom, but doesn't always bring wisdom. Just because a man is old doesn't make him wise or Godly. Are we going to accept Randy now because he is old?
But I will refer you to Church Government: Ascension Gifts vs Descension Gifts for more info about what an elder is. But once again, here, I wish to draw a line on where elders rule, and where they do not.
The links I discovered give great Biblical stances on what elders do not rule in:
•All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matt 28:18).
•Jesus alone is the Head of the church (John 5:26-27, Eph 1:22-23, Col 1:18).
•God does not permit Christians to have controlling authority over other Christians in the church (see Matt 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45, Luke 22:24-27, 1Pet 5:3, Matt 23:8-12, etc.).
•We do not have multiple special high priests over us. There is only One High Priest, Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 3:1, 4:14).
•We have One Master Christ and we are all brothers (see Matt 23: 8-12).
•You cannot obey two masters; you will love the one and hate the other (Matt 6:24, Luke 6:13). You simply cannot obey Jesus as master and a pastor as master at the same time.
Ruling over the lives of sheep, is not an elder's place. They have no authority there. So where do they have authority?
Jas 3:1 ¶ My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
These verses show us indirectly the rule of elders. Elders steer the church. They don't steer households, they don't steer individuals, they steer the flock. As a bit in a horses mouth, as a helm on a ship, as a shepherd of the flock.
But what does this mean? Let's say a church want's to reach out, whether to another community, or within that community, or so on. Do the church members vote on such decisions? No, that is not Biblical. Church leadership decides. Or who decided on what is to be preached and taught during services? Who steers the direction of the church? The doma ministers.
The Bible tells us there is government giftings.
6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us...
8: ... he that ruleth, with diligence...
Elders rule the church in matters of church oversight and direction. They steer the church. The seek the Lord on the direction of the church, and steer it in that way. Or they should. I know it is also abused. So many churches have been steered into denominationalism, religion, sacraments, liturgy, and the like. Just because there is error and misdirection, doesn't mean we toss out that which is scriptural.
Elders can decide on outreach direction, the type of worship or praise, seasons of fasting and prayer, seasons of ministry, how and where to spend the church money, when and what to teach and preach. They can even raise up and teach other doma ministers and ordain. All of this kind of governmental rule.
But church leaders don't decide where you work, what clothes you wear, or who you are to marry. They don't rule other households. They don't spank the teen daughter of another household, like Randy Shankle did.
Sure an elder can refuse to marry in their church. It is their church, but it better be for Biblical reasons like previous marriages that were never attempted to counsel (Randy has done that, married a woman in his church, whose ex-husband was never even listened to). An elder could forbid marriage between a believer and an unbeliever, but only within their church.
An elder can only bishop so far. If a believer wanted to marry an unbeliever, they can explain the error, refuse to perform the wedding, but they shouldn't beat the believer or hang him out to dry publicly. Yes scripture gives us an example of when Paul publicly uncovered one Christian's sin to the church. The man was sleeping with his father's wife! This is when an extreme sin is taking place and when a church member is a danger to the church.
I know of a case in the Church in Marshall where a man told the elders that his wife was going to be unfaithful. In this situation they didn't step up and help.
Elders need to know when they can use their authority and when they can't. It's about the preservation of sheep. Not for their destruction. More on this problem prophesied from the Old Testament below.
The following is an example of Eldership Rule abuse. The following link is to a download of a church service by Randy Shankle of what he calls a "Family Forum". In this "service" he publicly denounces and condemns people. He discusses his spanking of teenagers who are not his children and even using a piece of lumber on his own son. I forget, I think he refers to it as a 2x6 he spanks his own teen son with. This was broadcasted on Jan 31, 2010. It was accidentally broadcasted. But I recorded it. This is a MP3 file that lasts 2 hours and 41 minutes long. The file is 46 megabytes in size. You can download the file at:
So the 2 websites I discovered are great, but if taken to the extreme, there wouldn't be any rule. Leadership steers the church. It is Biblical.
Now one thing these websites seem to concentrate on is the lack of good churches, good church leaders (by what they define as legitimate leaders), and a particularly good pastors. And this is relatively true. It's an issue I agree on, most pastors today are bad pastors. This was prophesied on in the Old Testament concerning the last days.
Zech. 10: 1: Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. 2: For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. 3: Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah...
Zec 11:17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
Ezekiel 34:6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yes, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, says the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became food to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus says the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them.
Jer 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. 2 Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, says the LORD.
Even the best pastor I have ever met (Bruce Delay), misses the boat, because he is promoting politics as a solution to America's problem! When Paul clearly stated:
2 Cor 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds
So how can carnal actions (voting, legislation, politics), fix a spiritual problem? They can't.
Pastors have missed it, and God foresaw this way back in the Old Testament. I also saw this when I began reading prophecy books. One author claimed that because pastors refuse to teach and discuss prophecy, that Christians are seeking for such information elsewhere, like in books.
Pastors need to be feeding the flock. How many of the flock know the Foundational Principles of Christ?
Just because there is fake money, or money that has been misused, or even damaged, doesn't mean that real money doesn't exist or that we shouldn't use it. I had a Christian friend years ago deny that prophets exist because there are so many false ones. This is not the case.
The 5 fold doma gifts are from God and are real. But they have failed. I discuss church failure here:
Has the Church Failed?
I hope one can understand I do not believe in the complete failure of the church and the absence of good ministers/pastors. While finding a good church may be difficult, it's not impossible. I am not endorsing the forsaking of the church, but realize the church may have forsaken you and me. Nor am I condemning good pastors like Bruce Delay. I am just acknowledging a level of failure, and the difficulty of finding a good church.
So once again, swing away from the abuse of Eldership Rule to the following 2 links, just remember to swing back to the middle, where Elder rule and pastors are indeed a Biblical truth. Eldership Rule is Biblical, but what they can rule and what they cannot rule, must be understood.
One of my favorite revelations I got from Watchman Nee's book "God's Plan and the Overcomers". I particularly like the 2nd half of the book and learned that God had a plan concerning the church having some failure, which was by His use of the Overcomers. Once again I discuss this, particularly near the end of this page:
Has the Church Failed?
Where the church fails, we can gain access to God's truth and His Kingdom teachings through His overcomers. You can view some of this book here:
God's plan and the Overcomers
The author of truthguard.com responded to this page. You can view his response and my reply here:
Church Government Part 5 - Eldership Rule Part 3
Links of Interest:
Church Government: Ascension Gifts vs Descension Gifts
Church Government Part 2 - Eldership Rule: Concerning the Shepherding Movement
Church Government Part 5 - Eldership Rule Part 3
Has the Church Failed?
Randy Shankle & the Church in Marshall