WARNING: Each of the lessons in this series are longer than normal due to the depth and accuracy needed to cover this subject.
Average duration is 1.5 hours per recording.
Our church went through an amazing transformation at the end of 2010. By the Lord’s direction, we switched from a solitary female Pastor led group to a all male elder led New Testament church.
The change did not come easy!
This is our story…
In June of 2010, I (Pastor Mark) was infrequently attending a bible study in Sarasota, FL. led by a man who had conducted a series of weekend getaways where men and women (on separate weekends and different leadership) could encounter the love of God in a deep and impactful way. I had attended one of these weekends in May of this year and that is how I came to attend this man’s bible study.
Everyone addressed this man by the prefix “Pastor”, yet many times I discerned a bit of a condescending tone in his voice when he would mention the term Pastor himself. Following one meeting I decided to confront him about this evident token of disapproval for an office in the church by which title he was regularly addressed.
He told me that he had no problem with pastors but that he though that it was seriously out of balance to have Pastors recognized as the single most important and influential gifting in the church when the Bible only mentions them one time in the whole if the New Testament.
I said that I would have to look into that (fully expecting him to be off his rocker). To my surprise he was right…at least partially.
When I did a word search for the English word Pastor in the KJV, I found a single reference in my New Testament found in Eph. 4:11,
“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers“
Now I had been to bible college and knew enough Greek to know that the terms “pastor and teachers” were governed by one article in the Greek which actually turned these two words connected by a conjunction into a single hyphenated word…”Pastor-teachers”. This means that in this passage the meaning is that Pastors were a class of teacher…pastor-teachers.
However, I did NOT know, nor did I expect that the term only appeared once in the whole of my New Testament! I took this as a challenge and decided to do a study. Little did I realize then, that this study would take months of painstaking research, interviews with note-worthy teachers and ultimately culminate in a radical change in my life!
As I looked of the word Pastor I found that it was the Greek word ποιμήν poimēn and simply means shepherd.
Then I did a King James Concordance search on this Greek word to discover that it actually appears 18 times in the New Testament, only translated into different English words – now this was encouraging!
Then I read these references and discovered that all of them (save the one in Ephesians) were NOT in reference to my traditional understanding of the word – Pastor.
I will not go into the details of the study for needless to say it would take a copious amount of time to do so. Furthermore this series of recorded teachings are the original teachings I took our church through once we made the change and so they will reveal to you the pathways this study took me through.
In the end, we discovered a rich and deep calling in the New Testament to which we were previously unaware due to our lack of study, our blind adherence to modern church traditions and mostly due to our bias.
Before this, our “church” had been led by a female for many, many years beginning LONG before it was an established norm in the western world. I knew all the arguments by heart and was ready on a moments notice to rake anyone over my “theological coals” should they make the mistake of challenging us on this point, and this I did many times (to my shame).
So, as I said earlier, this was not an easy decision, and only those who know me very closely have any idea how agonizing the journey was for me.
In the end, God showed me beauty where I had only seen bigotry and ugliness.
I encourage anyone who listens to our story through these recordings to not make the mistake of defending your “take” on New Testament theology concerning women or Pastors.
Just lower your guard, listen to the teachings, look up the scriptures in their contexts and be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Freedom is yours if you will only allow Him to protect your heart and simply believe His Words are true and they are good.