No, I'm not waxing hyperbolic here. And no, I'm not trying to insult the pastor of your church (I hope you are part of a good church with a Bible teaching man of integrity leading it). And no, I'm not talking about the pastor of my church. Although I love and respect my pastor immensely, and although I think he's one of the best pastors in America, I don't think he's the BEST Senior Pastor EVER. That claim belongs exclusively to the Senior Pastor of Paradox Bible Church in Seattle, Washington.
Paradox Bible Church is a new church that is being planted in the very hard soil of Seattle, Washington. Seattle is one of the least "churched" cities in America. The church is just starting to get organized, and planning to launch public services in September. But they're already becoming active in the community in significant ways to prepare the soil. The planting pastor was previously on staff at a large Baptist church, and felt called to plant a new church in a needy community. Having been involved in a church plant in the almost impenetrable soil of rural New England, I have a ton of respect for anyone who does this sort of thing. It's tough work that demands continual sacrifice.
The church seems to be off to a good start, doctrinally sound and very properly focused on practical outreach to needy people. I stumbled across the church quite by accident, and God seemed to impress my heart to follow and pray for the work. Of course, any church sporting the name "Paradox" catches my attention. I admit though, given the name and the prevailing misuse of the paradox concept, I was expecting some sort of emergent liberal mush - but I was pleasantly surprised and found something solid and promising instead. Still, how can I possibly say this church has the BEST Senior Pastor EVER? They aren't even holding Sunday services yet.
Here's what the church website says about its Senior Pastor:
Now that is a unique approach! Lest anyone should think this is mere postmodern label switching, let's have a look at the one and only passage in the New Testament that contains the rough equivalent of the term, "Senior Pastor."
I Peter 5:1-4 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
Chief Shepherd = ARCHIPOIMEN - formed from two Greek words, ARCHE (beginning, origin, leader, principality, first in a series) and POIMEN (herdsman, shepherd, pastor).
Even the more updated term "Lead Pastor" would seem to be more appropriately assigned to Christ than a mere man. So I commend Paradox Bible Church for using Christ-centered creativity to move us closer to the Bible's teaching.
I'm not suggesting every church needs to change the traditional titles the way Paradox Bible Church has, but my impression is that they have followed the more Biblical course. The rest of us ought to follow their example, at least in spirit. Jesus Christ can be your Senior Pastor, too! By the way, they call their earthly pastor the "Lead Planter."
Please take a moment to pray that God will bless this new church by granting them favor with the community and enabling them to bring souls to Christ through the proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel.
Update: A reader has informed me that this church may be following the lead of Seattle's most famous pastor, Mark Driscoll. Apparently, Driscoll has long maintained that Christ is the Senior Pastor of his church. If Christ is the Senior Pastor of multiple churches (and I believe He IS the Chief Shepherd of every true church), perhaps we should call him a Bishop as well? Indeed, He is everything good, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.