On October 31st I celebrated something other than Halloween. I celebrated Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of a Catholic church in Germany and what we now call Reformation Day.
One of the biggest pieces of emphasis from Luther was changing the wide gap that was present between clergy and the congregation. He wanted the church to be a place that allowed for the priesthood of all believers to take place in equality.
It is a common thing to hear about a new church being planted and people explaining it as getting back to the early church as found in Acts 2 and 3. Nobody my age wants to do “modern church” they want to do “vintage church” or “emerging church.” But I have one major problem with all this: we’re still picking and choosing what church means to us from those passages in Acts.
What am I getting at you ask?
This statement is fairly common in Acts: “they had everything in common.” It is a statement that speaks to the equality that the early church had in their meeting together. The problem is that churches today are still run the same way: by one key leader. When churches speak about equality they must be referring to only those in the seats because we have a similar barrier between clergy and congregation as Luther fought against.
Today’s churches have bought the lie that hierarchical leadership is the most effective model for churches. Hey it works in the business world right?
I love what J.I. Packer said about the authoritarian style of the senior pastor model of church leadership:
“Authoritarianism is evil, anti-social, anti-human, and ultimately anti-God (for self-deifying pride is at its heart), and I have nothing to say in its favor.”
So we want to do church like the early church, but we want to ignore the whole equality thing. We can just mask the importance of it by being good servant leaders right? Wrong.
Alex Strauch nails this:
“Church organizational structure matters because structure determines how people think and act.”
No church will ever be able to push the idea of the Priesthood of All Believers until they recognize the need for equality between the church leadership and those who make up the body of the church. We need to work toward further realizing the dream Luther had back on Halloween in 1517.
Any thoughts on how the priesthood of all believers relates with the senior pastor model of church leadership?
Tyler Braun is the Co-Director of Praise Bands at Sunset Presbyterian Church in Portland, Oregon. He can be found on his blog at www.manofdepravity.com.