Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Threefold Cords and Pastoral Plurality

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

This text is quite often used for marriage.  The husband, the wife, and Jesus are not easily broken.  That’s a good enough principle, and is certainly true that a Christ-centered marriage is “not quickly broken”. 

In as much as this verse may be helpful for marriage it may be even more helpful when considering ministry.  This is why it appears that the New Testament church consistently established a plurality of elders (pastors).  Even in the new church at Crete filled with relatively new converts, Paul admonishes Titus to “put what remained into order, and appoint elders [note the plurality] in every town as I directed you”. 

So, not only do I find this to be the New Testament form of church leadership but I also see things like Ecclesiastes 4.  How many pastors have been “quickly broken” because he “has not another to lift him up”?  How many pastors have seen a spark of grace (or even a wildfire) quickly die out because he “can’t keep warm alone”? 

I support a plurality of elders because I have seen numerous pastors “broken” without it.  Yes, I still support congregationalism (that means the congregation votes and “rules”), but I support a congregation that is led by a plurality of elders.  We pastors need one another.  And not just a distant fellowship of associations.  We pastors need other brothers in our immediate circumstances to keep grace warm and to hold us up. 

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