Who is the Head of your Church? Right at the beginning, the PCA’s Book of Church Order set’s forth an acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is “The King and Head of the Church.” Establishing this at the start was no doubt a reaction to the papacy of Roman Catholicism which views the Pope as the head of the church here on earth.
And yet it was strategic as the BCO, along with the Westminster Standards (which are subordinate to Holy Scripture) form the Constitution of the PCA. In other words, the BCO which will lay out the standards and rules to call, ordain, and install pastors (among other things) wants to establish from the very beginning that Jesus Christ is over everything in this book. Or rather, everything that follows in this book is subordinate to Christ. Of course this idea is not unique to the PCA by any means. That being said, there is no shortage of Protestant pastors and ministry “leaders” who view themselves as the head of their specific churches.
Jesus Christ is alive and well and ruling at the right hand of the Father. The book of Revelation both depicts Christ in this fashion but also as active among his churches as Revelation 2 and 3 and describes in the 7 letters to the Churches. Christ is our King. Unfortunately, as the children of Israel had Yahweh as their King yet they cried out for another king and so do many of our churches. And as the rulers of the pagan world such as Pharoah and Caesar set themselves as gods to be worshiped, many of the pastors of Christian churches put themselves in these positions also.
It is a tough road to walk to be a senior pastor of a church. People want a strong “leader” and humans are all too willing to assume the role. And yet the balance is that the Pastor has to “lead” but also has to follow and be under Christ’s authority. That is why I really like the word Pastor. It means Shepherd. We who are pastors are shepherds. Not Kings. We who “lead” in worship, must remember that Jesus Christ is our worship leader. We must remind our people of that also.
I think John the Baptist did a good job of exemplifying how a pastor should lead. He was growing in popularity. People wanted to know if he was the Messiah. All the while he was pointing people to Christ. Our pastors must be pointing people to Christ. The focus should not be on the Pastor, but rather on Christ.
Here is a final thought about Christ’s rule and authority of His Church. A Church with Christ as its head is a church under the authority of the Word of God. Jesus himself is the Word of God (John 1:1-3). In that regard, the Scriptures are the embodiment of God Himself. For this reason Hebrews 4:12 reads that the word of God is living and active, just as the person of Christ is living and active. Let us, in whatever “leadership” capacity we have at “our” churches be in constant humble submission to the eternal Word of God, Jesus Christ. Every day, let us pastors say with John the Baptist, “I must decrease and He must increase.” (John 3:30, paraphrase)