Strictly speaking, the only authority a pastor has is the spiritual authority inherent in the message he preaches. Having said that, there is a measure of authority that goes along with the office of minister. This will vary from denomination to denomination, and from church to church. It is also linked with the personality of the minister to some degree. But whatever the church or denomination, there will be times when the minister may have to “reprove, rebuke or exhort” (2 Tim. 4:2). One thing, however, is clear, and that is that a minister should never be a dictator. Autocracy is quite out of place in the pastoral office. On the other hand democracy is not a biblical concept. The meeting in Acts 15 was not a church meeting; it was a meeting of churches. The ideal is a plurality of spiritually minded leadership in a local church. Happy is the man who has one or more godly leaders alongside him to share in the rule and guidance of the church. (See articles on Deacons and Eldership). But even if there is an eldership who actively lead, or “rule” the church, they would be wise to seek to carry the church with them in major decisions. To spring major changes on a church without prior warning or consultation is not good practice and can lead to serious trouble in a church. The elders do not need to abdicate their leadership in order to do this. There are ways of preparing a church for change which do not involve surrendering the right to decide issues. It is helpful if the church constitution spells out the elders’ role and the manner in which issues are to be decided.

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