so, perhaps one more post of 'the pastor' and the breakdown of Pagan Christianity
So, obviously the early church featured different functions within the body - but the emphasis (especially in the Pauline epistles which are the essential letters to the early church) were about humility and equality and everyone participating in the body as the church of Jesus in the world. This idea of equality and shared leadership shifted drastically over the years (especially after Constantine's reign):
"To be a Christian under Constantine's reign was no longer a handicap. It was an advantage. It was fashionable to become a part of the empoeror's religion. And to be among the clergy was to receive the greatest of advantages... Clergymen received the same honors as the highest officials of the Roman Empire and even the emperor himself...he also ordered that the clergy receive fixd annual allowances (ministerial pay)... he exempted the Christian clergy from paying taxes... and they were freed from being tried by secular courts and from serving in the army... in all these things the clergy was given special class status." (pg. 121)
This is really helpful to me. Booth revolutionized the world with the release of a BODY of people who were all enlisted to serve and lead and win the world for Jesus. The 'officers' were simply considered soldiers with more time to commit to the fight... I remember as an officer in my first appointment coming across a telegram from William lamenting that officers were doing all the preaching at meetings themselves - william was furious... the soldiers are equipped for this... and if they aren't it's the duty of good officers to equip them. That changed my whole view on preaching but it also helped to inform my view of the practical reality of priesthood of all believers. In the early church when they gathered it was expected that EVERYONE had something to contribute. What we mean by that now is that some people are called to stack the chairs, sit in the chairs and one person is called to speak. It's crazy. The professionalisation of the 'priesthood' is the collapse of the church as Jesus unleashed her at Pentecost... I think it's a very valid point. From both perspectives. Hiring and having a 'professional priest' to be the leader of a people often makes the people lazy and indifferent to how Jesus wants to use them and equip them on the other hand it makes it virtually impossible to be an effective leader when all the body's health and future and the impact it's supposed to make in the world is your job... it's no wonder it can't be done.
Why are we so infactuated with someone being 'the pastor'? our infactuation is evidenced by our hunger for education and qualifications and an endless sea of training the professional elite to 'lead the body' - I can't even tell you the amount of messages I've heard on 'authority' and the need to 'submit' to authority which in a hierarchical model of leadership can only line up with the Romans not with the early Christians. Just food for thought... but I'm into the church being the church... equality and giftings and release for EVERYONE to use all gifts for God and His glory.
Imagine what your church might look like if the 'pastoral' model changed?? who would lead? who would speak? who would set direction? who would visit your neighbour? I know... you could?!!