Poetry With A Mission

...a thought provoking poetical exercise.

“And when they had APPOINTED ELDERS for them in EVERY CHURCH, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23, NASB).

“The ELDERS who DIRECT THE AFFAIRS OF THE CHURCH well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Tim 5:17, NIV).

“Therefore, I [Peter] exhort the ELDERS among you, as your FELLOW ELDER and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, SHEPHERD THE FLOCK of God among you, exercising OVERSIGHT not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be EXAMPLES to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:1-5, NASB).

“But we [Paul, and others] 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” (1 Thess 5:12,13, NASB).

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you OVERSEERS [elders], to SHEPHERD THE CHURCH OF GOD which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28, NASB).

“If a MAN does not know how to MANAGE HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD, how can he CARE FOR [manage] GOD’S CHURCH?” (1 Tim 3:5, RSV).

The word BISHOP in the following texts is not to be confused with bishops as we understand them today, hence why in Titus 1:5-9 (KJV) we also see the word ELDER used.
Regarding the word BISHOP the NKJV has OVERSEER in the footnotes.
The NIV (as one example) uses both the word ELDER and OVERSEER.

“For this cause left I [Paul] thee [Titus] in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting [the organizing of the Cretan church], and ordain ELDERS in every city, as I had appointed [directed, previously instructed] thee: If any be blameless, the HUSBAND of one wife, having faithful children [ones who were Christian believers] not accused of riot [without restraint] or unruly [rebellious, undisciplined]. For a BISHOP must be blameless, as the STEWARD of God [the faithful and correct manager of God’s affairs]; not self-willed [arrogant], not soon angry [quick tempered], not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men [rather, “goodness”], sober, just [upright], holy [devout, of appropriate conduct, respectful of God, dutiful], temperate [self controlled]; Holding fast [clinging to] the faithful word [the gospel] as HE hath been taught, that HE may be able [as an apt and humble teacher, having the intellectual ability] by sound doctrine [must have a firm grasp of God’s word, and use Scripture correctly] both to exhort [urge, encourage by argument, admonish, advise], and to convince [convict] the gainsayers [those who speak against]” (Titus 1:5-9, KJV). Note also 1 Tim 5:17,22.

“This is a true saying [worthy of trust], If a MAN desire the office of a BISHOP [elder/pastor role], HE desireth a good work. A BISHOP then must be blameless [must have proven moral fitness], the HUSBAND of one wife [married only once; an elder divorced for any reason would be handicapped as a spiritual leader. An elder/pastor must have an untarnished record of marital fidelity, which would serve as a worthy pattern for his flock], vigilant, sober [self controlled], of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach [skilled in teaching]; Not given to wine [one who does not drink alcohol], no striker [not quarrelsome, but instead have a conciliatory peacemaking disposition], not greedy of filthy lucre [money]; but patient, not a brawler [but instead a conciliator], not covetous; One that RULETH WELL HIS OWN HOUSE [proven leadership in his own home], having HIS children in subjection with all gravity [have obedient and respectful children]... Not a novice [spiritually immature], lest being lifted up with pride HE fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover HE must have a good report of them which are without [be respected generally]; lest HE fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim 3:1-7, KJV). Note 2 Tim 2:15).

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16, NIV).

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11, NIV).

“For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry…” (1 Sam 15:23).


Turn The Clock Back

We have wandered so far from those apostolic days and ways,
Thus, our present condition folly and rebellion displays.
We have sought to please man, we’ve fallen victim to compromise,
Yes, we’ve strayed from truth, our actions no longer harmonize.

A case in point?

Elders, were meant to shepherd (pastor) each church, not just one man,
Thus, pastors as we know them, aren’t part of that original plan.
Biblically, a pastor and elder are one and the same,
There’s no distinction, no separate office, as many claim.

Yes, a number of elders, and not a pastor, was the plan,
For where’s the wisdom in control being in the hands of one man?
Not that any elder should control, as such, but humbly serve,
Hence the ways of the Great Shepherd Himself, elders should observe.

Yes, even elders can err, via domination or ego,
Acting like Pharisees, when self-interest they should forgo.
Each elder should study the life of Paul, who served selflessly,
And who never misused his apostolic authority.

Now back to the main point:

The brotherly oversight by elders got replaced, you see,
By bishops, clergy, yes, a most unbiblical hierarchy.
Thus, church eldership soon disappeared, hence why today we see
A free for all, as it were, or an unbiblical clergy.

A pastor’s nothing more than an elder — head elder, presumably,
He shouldn’t be some lone ranger who’s ruling the roost locally.
He might be engaged in church planting though, and overseeing,
That is, keeping an eye on existing flocks, and their well-being.

And if doing the latter, he shouldn’t be tied locally,
But should be allowed to rove, spreading the Gospel as his ministry.
And only in that sense, should he differ, be out on his own,
An apostle, as it were, evangelist, sent by the Cornerstone.

Meantime, it’s the elders that should be shepherding the local church,
Working together, (lest one man at the helm cause it to lurch).
And guiding, nurturing, upholding truth, lest members go astray;
And each elder out in the workforce, thus paying their own way.

When roles are elevated, as these days pastors’ roles can be,
Pride is often the outcome, and misuse of authority.
But paid and settled pastors simply soak up precious money
That’s better spent on a roving elder's Gospel ministry.

Settled pastors, (unlike those roving), largely preach to the converted,
Therefore, their ministry can become somewhat introverted.
That is, more focused on believers, not non-believers, you see,
Which leaves souls in darkness, while pampering members unwisely.

Settled pastors can weaken a church, create dependency,
Thus, members become spiritual weaklings, eventually.
Also, eldership is robbed of its authority, potency,
And the church robbed of energy; no longer visionary.

Yes, it’s time we turned the clock back, returned to the better way,
The way that the apostles were led — Spirit led, that’s to say.
Yes, let the elders shepherd each church, each flock — not just one man,
Thus acting in accordance with the Spirit led apostolic plan.

By Lance Landall

Worth reading: "Biblical Eldership" by Alexander Strauch