Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Co-Ed Pastoral Retreats?

I am so thankful that God has given us an Old and New Testament that points us in a clear direction regarding how our churches should run. From the Levite priests to the New Testament apostles and early church elders, God has been establishing for us a pattern of sacrificial, godly, and bold leadership from men patterned after Jesus Christ.

However, what would you think if next Sunday after the benediction at your local church, there were a man and a woman standing together to greet church-goers and offer prayer and counsel? This is not uncommon, and we see it quite often with pastors and their wives.

But imagine if this man and woman were married to other people. And they weren't a husband and a wife, rather they were a co-pastor team leading the congregation together while their spouses sat in the pews. Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical scenario, because it is becoming increasingly common in some denominations to see male/female pastoral teams serving together. Instead of reviewing the theological arguments for godly, male leadership in the church and home, I think it would be helpful to look at the practical outworking about what it means for a church to have co-pastors of the opposite sex.

Consider the pastoral team of your local church: What would happen if on the next out-of-town retreat they took a new female pastor along? Suddenly there would be a new dynamic. There would be a host of wives (and a husband) left behind with the thought that their husband (or wife) is on a retreat, wrestling through tough issues with another person's spouse. Or what if your pastoral team decided to go to the next national pastor's conference? In that case, the idea of fitting as many pastors into a room as financially and ethically possible would become complex.
Or consider a co-pastor team. The pastorate carries many burdens and weighty issues. If shared with a member of the opposite sex, who is not a spouse, it could bring an unhealthy closeness that should only be protected within the bounds of marriage. When a man and a woman as co-pastors debrief after a hard session counseling a church member, they are left alone to share together the tough emotions and triumphs of personal ministry. This opens the door to a world of practical issues with regards to husbands and wives.

The New Testament commands for church government eliminate all sorts of complexities. It eradicates an avenue for questions in the minds of spouses. Suddenly pastoral accountability isn't nearly as awkward when one doesn't need to share temptations and sin issues with someone of the opposite sex.

God has always had our best interest in mind. No matter how hard we try to ignore or improve on his design, it is never a helpful scenario when men and women serve in such a close personal relationship as co-pastoring. But regardless of the "unhelpful" nature of it, Scripture simply doesn't allow for it. It is on this basis, and this basis alone, that we stand. As we look to God's Word to direct us, we are reminded that these commands are for our good, and for his glory.

*Originally posted here

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