Future Church of England: A Plurality of Elders or a Plurality of Churches

Something I learnt quite early in ministry training was that the New Testament pattern for church leadership was plural.  That is, when the eldership is referred to, there is no concept of the one-man band - the pastor or minister of a church.  So you find, for example, in Titus 1:5:

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you
The implication is that each church has multiple elders.  My impression is that this idea has gained traction among evangelicals, who have been challenged about the error of one-man band approaches that dominated in the 20th Century.

Something I've reflected on recently, is the irony of the current Church of England practice, which instead of placing a plurality of elders in a church, gives an elder a plurality of churches.  Most ministers now oversee anywhere between two and twenty-odd churches.

Now because that clearly doesn't work, what actually happens is that some sort of local leadership grows up and so in some sense we begin to get a plurality of leaders after all (is the minister now a Titus-like overseer/bishop?).

The big problem is the selection and training issues here.  Presumably what ought to happen is1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 selection and 2 Timothy 2:2 training up of these leaders.  If it did (which is the challenge to evangelical ministers!) then this could possibly become quite a good thing, although quite what view of church government you end up with I'm not sure.

The reality is, of course, is that many are selected by default.  When they are selected formally, biblical standards are not thought very relevant.  Ultimately many have no training and many have poor quality diocesan training. The positive among us would look at this as an opportunity (in which case how should we take it?). The negative among us would be inclined to think this is a sign of irreversible decline, as churches are more and more poorly led.


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