Un-ordained Pastor?

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Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
From Thomas WitherowThe sixth chapter of Acts comes next under consideration. At the period to which the narrative there recorded refers, the disciples at Jerusalem had grown numerous. The Grecians began to complain against the Hebrews, how that their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations. Hitherto the twelve had attended to the wants of the poor; but their hands were at the same time full of other work, and, among such a multitude, it is not surprising that some were neglected, nor is it very wonderful, considering what human nature is, that some were found to murmur, even when apostles managed the business. What was now to be done? A division of offices was clearly a necessity. But were the apostles to take it on themselves to select persons on whom should devolve the duty of attending to the temporal wants of the community? Had they done so, few would dispute their right, or venture to charge inspired men with the exercise of a despotic or unwarranted authority. But, instead of this, they adopted a course of procedure unaccountable to us on any other principle, than that they purposely managed the matter in such a way as would guide the Church in the appointment of office"“bearers when themselves would be removed, and thus form a precedent for future ages. The apostles summoned the multitude together and explained the case. They said their appropriate business as ministers was with the Word of God. They said it was unreasonable for them to have to neglect the spiritual province, in order to attend to temporal concerns; and they called upon the brethren to look out among themselves for seven men, of good character, gifted with wisdom and the Spirit of God, who might be appointed to take charge of this secular business, and who would leave the apostles free to attend to duties peculiarly their own namely, prayer and the ministry of the Word. "And the saying pleased the whole multitude; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch; whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them" ( Acts 6:5"“6 ). The seven men whom the multitude chose on this occasion were the first deacons. Though not expressly called so in the Scriptures, yet they are admitted to have been such, by almost universal consent. The lowest office"“bearers, therefore, in the Apostolic Church, were chosen by the people.

Here, then, are three clear facts, fully sufficient to be the basis of a principle. The first chapter of Acts supplies us with an instance of the assembled men and brethren appointing to office one who was both an apostle and a minister. The fourteenth chapter shows that the elders of the congregation were chosen by popular suffrage. The sixth chapter furnishes an example of the whole multitude of the disciples choosing seven men to be deacons. On these three facts, clear and irresistible, we found the principle of Popular Election. The conclusion that follows from this evidence, we find it absolutely impossible to evade, namely that in the Apostolic Church the office"“bearers were chosen by the people.

[Edited on 7-11-2005 by Michael Butterfield]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
If the "presbytery" (which is the church) can call a man (to go to the mission field, be a chaplain, be a seminary professor), why can't the session (which is the church also, Mt. 18:17) call someone. I realize I'm biased... (see my 11:11 pm post).
 

rmwilliamsjr

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
The new hire [subject of the thread]--

I have heard of the PCA allowing unordained men to fill the position known as "Assistant Pastor." (I'm an Assistant Pastor, but I'm an ordained member of Presbytery). But I believe that to be fundamentally out of accord with the BCO. The Assistant Pastor, as with all pastoral relations, is governed under BCO chapter 22. These are the only pastoral relations in the church. A "Youth Pastor," such as described above, is no pastor at all, but is a staff member. If he has not been approved in some way by Presbytery oversight of pastoral calls, he is not a "pastor" in the PCA, and he ought not to use the designation.

"Youth Leader/Director/Superintendent/-Gang Guru" whatever, but not pastor.

Adam,
I think a man in your position with the abilities and gifts you bring to a church would function well as a leader and organizer, as long as you always represented yourself as a serving under sessional oversight. It's just as reasonable as a volunteer janitor or a paid secretary. It's just a place and opportunity for service.

Bruce is right. Youth worker is OK. If this were in my Presbytery, I would counsel the church to discontinue the practice of calling him "pastor."

Well,

The dirty little secret in the PCA is that all that needs to happen anyway is for the Session to extend a call to the fellow and then they get around all kinds of BCO requirements. In fact, the session can call him, avoid the dreadful pulpit committee scenario, and never even give the congregation their constitutional right to extend a call to the man who can go on and get ordained and rule over the congregation as an un-called and un-elected office bearer of the church! That is a scandalous situation in the PCA under a "œrepresentative" form of church government!

:banghead: :banghead:


could you be more specific with BCO sections so i can research this?
i thought all asst and associate Pastors had to be called from Presbyters or liceniates.

thanks.

or some other links i can read.
....
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
All pastors must be examined and ordained by the Presbytery. This includes both assistants and associates. The Session cannot act independently of the Presbytery.

The difference between an associate and an assistant is who issues the call on behalf of the particular church. Remember also that calls can be issued even outside of the context of a particular church - missionaries, church planters, professors, etc.
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
All I am saying is that the session can call a man without going to the congregation, which is not the case say of a "senior" pastor. Anyone after the "senior" the session can call.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
All I am saying is that the session can call a man without going to the congregation, which is not the case say of a "senior" pastor. Anyone after the "senior" the session can call.

Actually, the Session cannot call an associate, only the congregation can. That is why the major distinction between an associate and an assistant pastor is that the former is a voting member of Session, while the latter is not (based on the principle that the congregation must choose its own elders over them).
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
All I am saying is that the session can call a man without going to the congregation, which is not the case say of a "senior" pastor. Anyone after the "senior" the session can call.

Actually, the Session cannot call an associate, only the congregation can. That is why the major distinction between an associate and an assistant pastor is that the former is a voting member of Session, while the latter is not (based on the principle that the congregation must choose its own elders over them).

:) You sure about that or are we just speaking in terms of semantics? In all seriousness, I know there is a distinction in the BCO, but I have a problem with the whole idea. The session can still call a man without the congregation calling the man. We have a man that is not called by the congregation in our church and is not, as far as I can tell, called by the presbytery. He is, however, certainly ordained by the presbytery.

22-3. An assistant pastor is called by the Session, by the permission and approval of Presbytery, under the provisions of BCO 20-1 and 13-2, with Presbytery membership being governed by the same provisions that apply to pastors. He is not a member of the Session, but may be appointed on special occasions to moderate the Session under the provisions of BCO 12-4.
22-4. The relationship of the associate pastor to the church is determined by the congregation. The relationship of the assistant pastor to the church is determined by the Session. The dissolution of the relationship of both is governed by the provision of BCO 23.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Mike,
If you were a member here in Akron, would you resent the ministry of the Word at my mouth, publicly and privately, even though I did not have any disciplinary authority over you, because the session had called me and directed me to preach, teach, and counsel? I'm just trying to see where you stand...
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
All I am saying is that the session can call a man without going to the congregation, which is not the case say of a "senior" pastor. Anyone after the "senior" the session can call.

Actually, the Session cannot call an associate, only the congregation can. That is why the major distinction between an associate and an assistant pastor is that the former is a voting member of Session, while the latter is not (based on the principle that the congregation must choose its own elders over them).

:) You sure about that or are we just speaking in terms of semantics? In all seriousness, I know there is a distinction in the BCO, but I have a problem with the whole idea. The session can still call a man without the congregation calling the man. We have a man that is not called by the congregation in our church and is not, as far as I can tell, called by the presbytery. He is, however, certainly ordained by the presbytery.

22-3. An assistant pastor is called by the Session, by the permission and approval of Presbytery, under the provisions of BCO 20-1 and 13-2, with Presbytery membership being governed by the same provisions that apply to pastors. He is not a member of the Session, but may be appointed on special occasions to moderate the Session under the provisions of BCO 12-4.
22-4. The relationship of the associate pastor to the church is determined by the congregation. The relationship of the assistant pastor to the church is determined by the Session. The dissolution of the relationship of both is governed by the provision of BCO 23.

Mike,

I'm very sure about this. After all, as a former Chairman (and current member) of the Candidates & Credentials Committee in Great Lakes Presbytery, I do this for a living (so to speak).


The Presbytery must approve the call of the assistant pastor exactly like that of an associate or senior/solo pastor. There is absolutely no difference. The calling of an assistant is analogous to that of a professor or any other TE who is not a member of a Session (i.e. having disciplinary authority over the members of the congregation).

For my part, the problem with an assistant pastor is NOT his relationship with the congregation, but rather the (lack) of protection an assistant pastor has in the (involuntary) dissolution of his call.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
I would agree with Scott and Andrew (when they said that the man should NOT be a novice). Some of the worst things happen with "green" go getters who want to "minister."

I would agree with Bruce and Fred on the role. The church ought not to call him pastor (and there you go - they young man just made his first big blunder). If he "needs" to be called pastor, then that may be a kind of pride issue. That is what Andrew quoted:

1 Timothy 3:6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
Mike,
If you were a member here in Akron, would you resent the ministry of the Word at my mouth, publicly and privately, even though I did not have any disciplinary authority over you, because the session had called me and directed me to preach, teach, and counsel? I'm just trying to see where you stand...

Bruce, in all due respect, it is a huge mistake for you to think you would not have "disciplinary authority" over me just because you are a non-voting member of the session.

27-1. Discipline is the exercise of authority given the Church by the Lord Jesus Christ to instruct and guide its members and to promote its purity and welfare.

The term has two senses:

a. the one referring to the whole government, inspection, training, guardianship and control which the church maintains over its members, its officers and its courts;

b. the other a restricted and technical sense, signifying judicial process.

27-5. Scriptural law is the basis of all discipline because it is the revelation of God´s Holy will.
Proper disciplinary principles are set forth in the Scriptures and must be followed. They are:

a. Instruction in the Word;

b. Individual´s responsibility to admonish one another (Matthew 18:15, Galatians 6:1);

c. If the admonition is rejected, then the calling of one or more witnesses (Matthew 18:16);

c. If rejection persists, then the Church must act through her court unto admonition, suspension, excommunication and deposition (See BCO 29 and 30 for further explanation).

Steps (a) through (d) must be followed in proper order for the exercise of discipline.

I would even suggest that a man called by the session would have a relationship with the session such that they would be exercising some discipline even apart from the preached word. I am, however, more than willing to concede that it might not be happening in your particular case.

Second, considering what I know about pastoral relationships I am at this point saying I personally would not take such a call.

Finally, would I not resent you´re the ministry of the word at your mouth, because my appreciation for the preached word is greater than my appreciation for the polity of our church! It is, nevertheless, a terrible inconsistency of the PCA. In addition to this, I think the heart of man is inherently inimical view to the whole idea of author and submission and that without a public call by the congregation a man such as yourself opens himself up to difficulties that would otherwise be eliminated by a call issued by the congregation.
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
All I am saying is that the session can call a man without going to the congregation, which is not the case say of a "senior" pastor. Anyone after the "senior" the session can call.

Actually, the Session cannot call an associate, only the congregation can. That is why the major distinction between an associate and an assistant pastor is that the former is a voting member of Session, while the latter is not (based on the principle that the congregation must choose its own elders over them).

:) You sure about that or are we just speaking in terms of semantics? In all seriousness, I know there is a distinction in the BCO, but I have a problem with the whole idea. The session can still call a man without the congregation calling the man. We have a man that is not called by the congregation in our church and is not, as far as I can tell, called by the presbytery. He is, however, certainly ordained by the presbytery.

22-3. An assistant pastor is called by the Session, by the permission and approval of Presbytery, under the provisions of BCO 20-1 and 13-2, with Presbytery membership being governed by the same provisions that apply to pastors. He is not a member of the Session, but may be appointed on special occasions to moderate the Session under the provisions of BCO 12-4.
22-4. The relationship of the associate pastor to the church is determined by the congregation. The relationship of the assistant pastor to the church is determined by the Session. The dissolution of the relationship of both is governed by the provision of BCO 23.

Mike,

I'm very sure about this. After all, as a former Chairman (and current member) of the Candidates & Credentials Committee in Great Lakes Presbytery, I do this for a living (so to speak).


The Presbytery must approve the call of the assistant pastor exactly like that of an associate or senior/solo pastor. There is absolutely no difference. The calling of an assistant is analogous to that of a professor or any other TE who is not a member of a Session (i.e. having disciplinary authority over the members of the congregation).

For my part, the problem with an assistant pastor is NOT his relationship with the congregation, but rather the (lack) of protection an assistant pastor has in the (involuntary) dissolution of his call.

I would agree with you about the problem with the assistant pastor, but I still want to know why a session can call a man without the congreations consent other than in them electing the elders that make up the session?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Mike,

Because he is called to the work of the Session, not the congregation. In the exact same fashion, a professor of Bible at a College is called as a TE.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
Bruce, in all due respect, it is a huge mistake for you to think you would not have "disciplinary authority" over me just because you are a non-voting member of the session.
I have no problem with what you are saying here, but I think that you realize too that I was speaking about ruling in the strongest sense, which was the sense that I understood you to mean in your first post on the subject. But surely a man called by the congregation is just as succeptible to the temptation to "lord it over the heritage," and perhaps even more so if he fails to keep his "calling" in view at all times.

I agree that, in some ways, being called and put on session would eliminate one point of potential irritation in the whole matter of pastoral relation. But ultimately whatever authority I stand by, none is as important as the Word of God in my mouth. I speak to the people as one sent by Christ. Provided I am faithful to my calling, ultimately if anyone should have a contention with my ministry, they do not have it with me but with him. My badge of office is simply the church's endorsement of Christ's call.

Mike, You don't have to agree. I don't expect you to at this point. I wouldn't expect you would necessarily see things the same if the shoe was on the other foot either. You might have turned the call down, and with a good conscience too.
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Mike,

Because he is called to the work of the Session, not the congregation. In the exact same fashion, a professor of Bible at a College is called as a TE.

I know the BCO has such a provision and obviously my problem is with the BCO at this point. It just seems to me that it is out of accord with what we generally understand as representative presbyterian polity. Frankly, I do not put a call of the presbytery to a man to teach at a Bible College on the same plain as a call to a congregation. In my small mind and not always clear understanding they seem inherently differnent.

Still looking for more light :candle:
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
Originally posted by Michael Butterfield
Bruce, in all due respect, it is a huge mistake for you to think you would not have "disciplinary authority" over me just because you are a non-voting member of the session.
. . . , but I think that you realize too that I was speaking about ruling in the strongest sense, which was the sense that I understood you to mean in your first post on the subject.. . .

. . . But ultimately whatever authority I stand by, none is as important as the Word of God in my mouth. . . . , ultimately if anyone should have a contention with my ministry, they do not have it with me but with him. My badge of office is simply the church's endorsement of Christ's call.
. . .

Actually, Bruce, I do realize that you are speaking of ruling in the strongest sense, but it was Dr. Smith who pointed out this other element of discipline to me in a way that I had not considered it before. What I am asserting, in some measure, is that this type of discipline is of far greater importance than we typically give it under this nomenclature. In fact, it is incontrovertible that your discipline of this type will be weighted much more toward this "œweaker" understanding of "œdisciplinary authority" rather than "œruling in the strongest sense."

As for anyone having "œa contention" with your ministry, I would just say that it does not seem so straightforward in my mind. If it were so clear-cut, would it not then make some sense just to do the same with the solo/senior pastor and associate? The man who had "œa contention" would not have had any opportunity to publicly make his mind known on the matter. Even the BCO recognizes that problems can arise if there is not a good strong majority of the people electing a pastor. If this can happen under the guidance of an election, what might happen without an election? I am only saying here that an election is a win for everyone involved and is, it seems, much more in keeping with our Presbyterian polity. I am certainly not wanting to take away anything from you as a man with a calling and gifts, I just think it more in keeping with our polity and offers fewer safeguards for all involved along the way.

20-5. On the election of a pastor, if it appears that a large minority of the voters are averse to the candidate who has received a majority of votes, and cannot be induced to concur in the call, the moderator shall endeavor to dissuade the majority from prosecuting it further; but if the electors be nearly or quite unanimous, or if the majority shall insist upon their right to call a pastor, the moderator shall proceed to draw a call in due form, and to have it subscribed by them, certifying at the same time in writing the number of those who do not concur in the call, and any facts of importance, all of which proceedings shall be laid before the Presbytery, together with the call.
 
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