If you look at the average Southern Baptist (or even non-denominational) church, you will quickly notice it’s a one-man show. In other words, there’s only one pastor. Quite frankly, nobody blinks an eye because it’s normal. But just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s the most biblical.
When searching for a church home, one of the most important things to look for is a plurality of elders. To have a plurality of elders simply means there are more than one pastor. Whether that’s two or 10, each pastor/elder has equal authority as a leader in the church. No pastor is the “head honcho.” They all work together with equal say.
The church I attend has a plurality of elders, and for as long as my wife and I have been members, it has worked well. There are four elders, with each one preaching once a month, usually. It took us awhile to get accustomed to not having the same pastor preach each Sunday, but it’s perfectly fine now. Other churches that have a plurality of elders may choose to not do a preaching rotation. That is also perfectly fine.
With that said, there are several benefits to having a plurality of elders in the local church.
How many times have we seen pastors have failings? Of course, in the end, pastors have fall outs because they are sinners and are responsible for their actions. But a lot of these scenarios are possible due to lack of accountability. In these cases, churches have a hierarchy like a business when, in reality, the church is not to be structured in that way.
This is not to say there can’t be a specific, lead preaching pastor. However, there ought to be other elders so accountability can be had.
When you have a plurality of elders, you don’t leave any room for unnoticed behavior. Even better, each pastor also has a pastor. In other churches, many pastors don’t have that source of encouragement and conviction. They aren’t shepherded.
With a plurality of elders comes more nourishment, more spiritual nutrition. Whether that comes from the pulpit or simply an informal conversation, having more than one elder ultimately benefits you in receiving more nourishment.
When you are under a plurality of elders as a member of the congregation, you have more opportunities to be encouraged, to be edified, to be challenged. In other words, you have more opportunity to grow as a believer.
You Won’t be Missed
Lastly, when you belong to a church that has a plurality of elders, you can be certain you won’t slip through the proverbial cracks. The pastors won’t forget you.
Using my church as an example again, I can know for a fact that one of my pastors will always be in touch with me if, for some reason, my family hasn’t been in attendance for some reason. I don’t view it as nagging, but a genuine care for us. I view it as an act of love. They care enough to reach out to members.
Friends, I don’t write to scold those churches that don’t have a true plurality of elders, though I believe they won’t live up to their biblical potential until they have a plurality. I write to offer encouragement in your search for a church. Look for a church that has a plurality of pastors, men who are biblically faithful and look out for the flock God has given them.