From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the ELDERS of the church” (Acts 20:17) “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you OVERSEERS, to SHEPHERD the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28) The organizational structure of WECC consists of shared or plural pastoral leadership. Evidence for this type of team approach abounds in Scripture.
Discussions of church leadership in the New Testament
The New Testament presents a unified teaching of plurality — more than one pastor (co-equal in authority).
- Acts 11:30 “elders”
- Acts 14:23 “and when they had appointed elders”
- Acts 15:2-4 “apostles and elders”
- Ephesians 4:11 “pastors”
- Philippians 1:1 “overseers”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 “those (plural) who have charge over you”
- 1 Timothy 5:17 “Let the elders who rule well”
- Titus 1:5 “appoint elders in every city”
- Hebrews 13:7,17,24 “leaders”
- James 5:14 “call for the elders”
- 1 Peter 5:1-3 “the elders who are among you…overseers”
Biblical Names for Church Leadership
Three names are used interchangeably for church leadership in the New Testament.
- Elders (Presbyters)
- Pastors (Shepards)
- Overseers (Bishops) In the apostle Paul’s discussion to the church of Ephesus he uses each name listed above in referring to the same men (Acts 20:17,28)
Biblical Benefits of Shared Leadership
- Capitalizes gifts and strengths while balancing out weaknesses
- Provides accountability within leadership
- Shares the burden of spiritual leadership among many
- Broadens the stability and spiritual foundation of the church
- Provides a wide range of godly input and counsel for making decisions Therefore, the leadership structure of WECC, based on the biblical model revealed in Scripture, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, recognizing Jesus Christ as the head, governs by plural or shared leadership.