Church leaders, including pastors, preachers, elders, and deacons, play an important role in Chinese house churches.
Most complaints are on things that can easily be improved or avoided such as their "shallow" preaching or inappropriate lifestyles.
Although the definitions for pastors often remain complicated, I believe that they need recognition from both God and man.
Recognition from God
Whoever serves God must be chosen by Him through salvation, bear the witness of a changed life, and be enthusiastic in commitment. The person must feel responsible for loving souls, the church, and the holy work, with distinct spiritual gifts and a proper interpretation of the truth in the Bible. The Holy Spirit will testify that his interpretation complies with God's will, and is in accordance with the Bible's truth and the understanding of other preachers with pure faith.
The gifts and rightful interpretation above are the results of the recognition of the Holy Spirit. The Bible, especially 1 Timothy chapter 3, is the authoritative standard to examine whether a church worker is qualified. If one fails these standards, he is not suitable to be a supervisor or a leader.
Recognition from man
Though training from seminaries with pure faith is necessary, this is not for a certificate from government agencies or religious groups, but so preachers may be recognized by their mother church as having a divine faith prior to their decision to serve. While preparing to serve full-time, pastors need to master the basic knowledge of the Bible through study alone or in a training class, in order to meet the teaching qualification. In this way, the congregation can truthfully experience the shepherding of the preacher full of loyalty and knowledge. Everyone can enjoy a supply of the good news and be benefited in their spiritual lives.
How beautiful the serving journey is! Leaders who have good reputations inside and outside the church are truly indispensable.
Recognition from both God and man is subjective, but objective conditions are just as significant.
If someone is well equipped with good will, but his church won't use him, then he has no chance of using his talent. Shepherds lead the church and meet the need of their spiritual life; in the meantime, believers should understand that they're humans who also have needs. Therefore, the two factors complement each other and can't exist without each other.
Regrettably, churches today lack both things: shepherds don't fulfill their responsibilities in pastoring, while the congregations fail to respect their pastors as well.
- Translated by Grace Hubl