The ecclesiastical elite love titles and certification. It is what immediately sets them apart from others. For some, this certification comes with various garments that lend an otherworldly aura.
To give a Biblical basis for their elevated position has required shifting basic functions into preeminent titles. As a function, that would make the positions equally available to everyone and most importantly available at any time. That equality is no longer accepted due to it undercutting elitism.
First, let us look at Jesus, who humbled himself to a level beyond our imagination, becoming a servant savior of the world. He was not certified by a single earthly entity. Even with all the mighty works Jesus was doing, not being certified by the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and Lawyers just wasn’t enough for many in Israel, including those in his hometown, his relatives, and his direct family.
2And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. 4But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. 6And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. Mark 6:2-5
So, it is not surprising, that to be deemed worthy of acceptance one needs some type of certification to launch one into preeminence. Let us look at these functions, some of which the elite have altered into a preeminent title.
Whenever you teach, in essence you are a teacher. That is not just for those teaching a Sunday School class and are given a title such as “Junior High Teacher”. Every believer, even in dialogue on a religious theme, has gone into teaching mode. At that point, that person has become a teacher.
Once a teaching dialogue takes place, often the tone switches to a phenomenon that is recognizable and would be considered preaching. It usually shifts from teaching to preaching whenever scripture is being used in a more emphatic tone. At that point, you could be called a preacher. In Acts we see the Apostles teaching and preaching, without ever receiving ecclesiastical labels or certifications.
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 5:42
Now let us look at the usage of “pastor” which is only mentioned once in the New Testament in a list that includes apostles, prophets, evangelists, and teachers. Just like being a teacher when you are teaching, you would be a pastor if pastoring. Pastor is covered as its own theme, but briefly, it is a function where you are facilitating the assembly and during that time of facilitating, you would be a pastor. It requires no theological education, no board certification, and no vote of the congregation. Whenever you are pastoring you are a pastor.
Looking further at preaching, isn’t it interesting how the elite have made pastor and preacher practically synonymous? Plus, they have taken preaching into an oratorical rather than a normal transition from teaching to preaching. Like Peter when explaining what some were saying was drunken behavior at Pentecost, Peter started to answer their questions, then shifted into teaching mode, then when getting heavily into scripture and becoming emphatic, shifted into preaching mode. Peter, Paul, James, John, and a host of other New Testament believers show no indication of ever preparing a sermon. That is a Gnostic apparition that was invented by the preeminent elite and is mentioned nowhere in scripture. It is a premeditated method of shutting down any dialogue while elevating the sermonizer into one who is above reproach.
While visiting a Bible College in India, one of the teachers asked why he felt so uncomfortable and even a bit panicky when having to preach in a church. I mentioned how our conversations seemed to flow easily and he acknowledged there was no anxiety in talking together. I then explained a little how our interaction is supposed to be natural and that the church setup we currently have is abnormal and unless one is doing sermons week after week tends to be extremely uncomfortable. At the time, the Lord hadn’t opened my eyes to the preeminence problem nearly as much as now, so, regrettably, I wasn’t able to expound anything further.
And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. Mark 6:6
Jesus did not wait around for anyone to certify his ministry and neither should we. The church structures of today prevent the spontaneous teaching and preaching afforded the early church believers. The last church age in the book of Revelation depicts Jesus standing at the door and knocking; looking for an opportunity to enter a simple fellowship; looking to dialogue; looking to teach and preach.