Many of the ideas of the Reformers were great. They denied that a priest could convert wine into blood. They encouraged the clergy to marry, they revised the service to allow the congregation to participate, and abolished the office of the bishop and priest. Their cry was the restoration of the priesthood of all believers! Sounds great! But the truth is that restoration was only partial. It only applied to the individual, saying that each believer had access to God and the Scriptures. But it did not apply to the corporate body of Christ as described in the New Testament where all believers are equal and each has a gift and calling for the benefit of other believers.
"God speaks through the preacher", "A Christian preacher is a minister of God who is set apart, yea, he is an angel of God, a very bishop sent by God, a savior of many people, a king and prince in the Kingdom of Christ" and "It is a wonderful thing that the mouth of every pastor is the mouth of Christ"
Calvin believed that the pastor was a "cure of souls" or a curate and his task was to bring healing, cure, and compassion to God's hurting people. Today many pastors try to fulfill such a role in church by counseling, praying with people, visiting the sick, and other duties. The burden of the entire church falls on one man, while in the first century church, it fell on the shoulders of the entire church and a group of mature-in-Christ elders.
Let me mention here that I have nothing against pastors. I love my pastor and I've had some great ones over the years. Most have been Godly men who truly care about their congregation. But I want to examine here some of the problems and negative results with having one man or even a small group of men in charge of an entire church.
- Divides the believing community into first and second class citizens, making people believe that certain people are more privileged to serve the Lord than others.
- The pastoral role has stolen the Christian's right to function as a full member of Christ's body, rendering him or her as a mute spectator
- The pastoral role has overthrown Christ's work on the cross which ended the old priesthood. It has denied Christians the right to minister in a church meeting as described in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and voided the message of 1 Peter 2 that every Christian is a functioning priest.
- The pastor rivals the headship of Jesus over His people by setting himself up as the church's human leader
In truth, the one man at the head of a church is not found anywhere in the New Testament. Rather we see small gatherings of believers meeting together, participating, and each one using his or her gift to help the others.
(Taken from Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna)