Question:What is the church's responsibility in caring for
By pastor, I have assumed that
you mean the senior pastor. This is important since God wants each church
to be governed by a plurality
– more than one man! The man who has been selected
as the senior pastor is the elder who has the responsibility
on Sunday morning. A church should care for its senior pastor in four
ways: financial support, accountability, respect, and submission of the
congregation to the Word of God.
Support. A church should care for its senior pastor financially.
Jesus set the example by accepting financial support from people during His
ministry. Doctor Luke records the following for us in his gospel.
. . . and
also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary
who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna
the wife of Chuza, Herod’s
steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to
their support out of their private means. (NASB) Luke
And on one occasion the Apostle Paul willing received financial
support and indicated that God was well-pleased with such a gift. And
on another occasion he encouraged people to give.
But I have received everything
in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having
received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant
aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. (NASB)
Yes, for our sake it was written, because
the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh
in hope of sharing the crops. If we sowed spiritual
things in you, is it too much if we reap material things
from you? (NASB) 1 Cor. 9:10-11
Financial support should include a regular salary and benefits.
In some churches the benefits include medical expenses, a book allowance,
sometimes education, retirement, and even a life insurance policy.
The Bible never tells us which ones to include. But a pastor should
be paid close to the average salary of those in his congregation.
In some churches, the senior pastor is paid very large amounts of
money. While the Bible does not condemn this, it is hard to justify
very large amounts when those who give to the church make less. The
church is not a business. This statement is contrary to the modern
view in some churches. But God is not interested in His church being
run as a business. A business is interested in how many people come,
how much money they receive, the latest program, and new ideas. God
is interested in the depth of the ministry and not how many attend
the church. God wants our focus on spiritual growth and holiness
and not on money or numbers. God is interested in the work of His
Spirit rather than new programs that discount the work of the Spirit.
Accountability. Accountability among church leaders is also important. There are
some senior pastors who are not accountable to anyone – even to the other elders.
The pastor is in control. In God’s model of the local church all the leaders
are accountable to one another. They are accountable for their attitudes, their spiritual
lives, and their conduct. How can a church care for its pastor? Another part of the
answer is by holding him accountable for his actions and life. He is not above everyone.
He is not more sacred. He is a redeemed sinner just like everyone else in the church.
Here is a wonderful quote from Gene Getz, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Plano,
People tend to extol human leaders, to put them on a
pedestal, and - to make this item very personal and relevant - in a sense
to become ‘pastor-worshippers.’ Most Christians would be
horrified at this accusation. But, unfortunately, it cannot be denied.
Every Christian leader must constantly strive to keep his people from
becoming overly dependent upon him. He must strive to ‘equip the
saints’ to minister to each other and to keep their primary loyalty
centered on Christ. Unfortunately Christian leaders are human beings.
To be honored and respected - both biblical injunctions - is highly satisfying
psychologically. Ego-building is a pleasant experience. And it is tragic
when spiritual and emotional immaturity causes a man to build a work
around himself and not around the body of Christ, and particularly its
Head - Jesus Christ. The work is destined for trouble, no matter how
large it grows.
. . . multiple leadership in the church is a New Testament
principle. The ‘one man’ ministry
is a violation of this important guideline. The scriptures frequently stress the ‘mutuality
of the ministry.’ No local church in the New Testament was ruled and managed by one person.
Plurality of elders appears as the norm.
This also means that the minister or pastor as we conceive
of him in many churches today is not ‘head
of the church’ or the ‘president of the corporation.’ . . . Their flock, conditioned
to such an approach, either dutifully attend each service and activity of the church and say ‘amen!’ or
they react against such unbiblical approaches and leave the church to
find a more pleasant pasture in which to graze. - Getz, G. A., Sharpening
The Focus of the Church, Moody Press., 1974. pp. 120-121
God has also commanded the church to discipline any leader who sins,
including the senior pastor.
Do not receive an accusation against an elder except
on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke
in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning.
(NASB) 1 Tim. 5:19-20
While God never intended for any leader to be "beyond reproach," He
also does not want us to be finding fault with every flaw. We all have
flaws; but when we consistently sin in a certain area, then each one
of us needs help. God is more concerned about our holiness than our comfort.
Respect. God also asks us to respect our leaders, including the senior pastor.
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate
those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the
Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in
love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. (NASB) 1
Notice that God wants us to appreciate, esteem, and live
in peace with those who "diligently labor among you, and have charge
over you in the Lord." This includes all of the leadership. If we
put all of this together, we find that we can care for our senior pastor
by not elevating him over the other leaders. Caring also includes honoring
the senior pastor and being at peace with him, as well as the other leaders.
The senior pastor needs to be respected because he is the one who ministers
to the congregation day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month.
Submission. Finally, if the church believes that God has called the senior pastor
to preach and teach the Word of God, then the congregation has the responsibility
to listen carefully and submit, unless he teaches error. The Holy Spirit urges
Christians to submit to the teaching of the Word. This encourages the leadership
to joyfully minister. What a great truth! Many godly leaders have been discouraged
because the hearers ignored the teaching of the Word of God.
Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep
watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do
this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for
you. (NASB) Hebrews 13:17
Conclusion:How shall we care for our senior pastor?
Hold him accountable for his actions, pay him the average wage of the
congregation, lovingly respect him for his ministry of the Word of God,
and submit to the teaching of the Word if you determine that he has spoken
the truth. We can thank God for the faithful men who teach His Word each
week. May God be honored.