Interestingly, we see a pattern: whenever New Testament writers refer to the leadership of local churches, they used a plural term, “elders.” We see this a lot in Acts but also in other books. For example, Acts 15:6, 11:30, 20:17, 21:18, 14:23, 15:22; Titus 1:5, and James 5:14. Now, we must be careful not to be guilty of anachronism. “Elders” very likely did not mean an ageing Christian who sometimes taught in Sunday School classes. We have an illuminating passage in 1 Timothy 5:17 shedding some light on the roles of elders:
Sometimes in conversations, preachers often bring up the many references in Paul’s writings where he essentially tells Gentile Christians to imitate his examples. Here are some passages: 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1, Philippians 3:17 as well as 1 Thessalonians 1:6, and 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 9. Generally, those who want to defend the one-man-show churching practice read these passages to mean that Paul became a present, proximal example to those Gentile Christians like Jesus was an example to those who believed in him during his earthly ministry. The obvious deduction being that today’s preachers can be the Christ-figure example for the parishioners to imitate. This reading of Paul is quite problematic, and the deduction is quite dangerous. In all the passages above, Paul does encourage Gentile Christians to imitate his doctrines. Now, what can we say about the doctrines in question? They all emanate from the gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul claimed to have received by revelation and which he ran by the other Apostles in Jerusalem who believed earlier than he did to make sure that he had encountered the right Jesus.
I shall share some personal convictions in the following work—convictions that I have had for some years now. But first, let me issue some disclaimers. Considering that my position on the omniscience ladder is very low, I am reasonably certain that not everything I have to say will be correct; that is, I count on readers to point out defects. There are a few generalizations in this work, even where I know that exceptions exist. Lastly, I really do not mean any offence in this work. This piece is informed by years of observations and the demonstrable ineffectiveness of the status quo. Shall we start properly then?