Because no one man can be “the Pastor.” If only my sermons could be as short as that answer! But alas there is usually more to my sermons and there is definitely more to answering this question.
At North Second Street, we strive to, “Call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in Bible ways.” This extends to our church organization and the names we use for individual Christians who fill certain roles.
The real question here comes from a misunderstanding of the organization for local congregations found in the inspired word of God. The word “pastor” is actually never used in the New Testament in the singular form. The one singular occurrence is found only in the King James Version (1611) in Jeremiah 17:16, “from being a pastor to follow thee.” The idea that one man can be “the” pastor of a congregation, is foreign to Scripture.
The Greek word translated “pastors” in the New Testament is poimen. In Ephesians 4:11, poimen is translated as “pastors.” In the 17 other places the word is found in the New Testament, the word is translated as “shepherd” or “shepherds.” Jesus uses the word to describe himself in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd.” But the common usage for which people confuse the term, is for the shepherds of the local church.
In the New Testament, the leaders of a local congregation are referred to as elders, overseers, bishops (presbytery), and yes, pastors. Bible scholars are united in the view that these terms were used interchangeably to refer to the same office1. In fact, in several places, two of the words are used in one passage to refer to the same group of leaders (Acts 20:17, 28, Titus 1:5-7, I Peter 5:1-2).
In the Bible, there were essentially two offices in the local church. That of elder (pastor) or deacon. Elders shepherd. Deacons serve. In every instance we find recorded, there are at least two men to fill each office in the congregation. Here at North Second Street, David Brown and David Muiznieks are our overseers.
So, no man can be “the” pastor. If we truly follow the Bible as our guide, there will always be elders, bishops, overseers, or pastors in a church but never one man to rule as the pastor singular. The local minister or preacher in a church can be one of the elders. But only if he meets the requirements laid out by God in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-11.
For much of the religious world, the role of minister, preacher, or evangelist has morphed into an office that does not exist in the Bible. You can not find “one man shepherding” of the local congregation in the Bible.
You can find it in the history of man’s intervention of human design into the church. The term bishop began to be used to refer to one man who ruled over local churches, then cities, then regions. These bishops eventually formed councils, wrote creeds, and changed the church into something completely different from the simple local congregations of the first century.
The word bishop never referred to one man that ruled a region containing several churches. The bishops of the Bible were the elders or overseers of local churches commanded to, “shepherd the flock of God that is among you”-I Peter 5:2. If we are to use the term “pastor” or “bishop” to refer to a Christian, it should be for a man who fills that role scripturally. That means as one of a plurality of bishops who shepherd a local congregation of God’s people.
Reverend or Father
These terms are much easier to deal with. You can find no reference in Scripture to a man being mentioned as “a reverend” or “our father.” It made me uncomfortable to even type that last sentence.
Those are terms to be used only for God the revered father of all creation. “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”-Matthew 23:9, Jesus says. And the psalmist declares, “Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome (held in reverence-NKJV) above all who are around him?”-Psalm 89:6-7
I am a minister. I hope one day to be a pastor. We are blessed to have men who are! But I am not to be revered or called your father. God is holy, reverend, and our Father. I am just Jason.