Q. What’s wrong with giving leaders, especially senior men, titles in the Assembly? Surely this gives them respect and dignity?
A. I sometimes smile wryly when I hear someone being called Pastor when the man is actually an evangelist or a teacher. Of course, God’s Word tells us not to call anyone Father, Matt 23:9, and it is strange to hear someone, unmarried, being called Father!
Nowhere in the New Testament Church do we find the use of titles. Some refer to Eph 4:7-11 as their basis for titles, but this is incorrect. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (elders) and teachers are not titles, and were never used as titles, because they are actually Job Descriptions! We don’t call the Bank Manager Banker Brown. In the Body of Christ there is no hierarchy and we are Brothers and Sisters (terms of relationship and endearment) in Christ. Each one is unique and uniquely placed into the Body to operate in terms of God’s call on their lives.
With regard to giving honour to people by way of titles, to facilitate their ministries, this again is error. We honour the gifting of God in His people as, in each case, this is an aspect of Jesus’ ministry operating through them. So we honour Christ in each other. And every believer has been given a ministry and responsibilities. Were we to honour some by way of titles, why not every believer? Are not Christ’s giftings equally important?
Finally, a believer’s ministry is not enabled or facilitated by the honour we bestow upon the person, by title, praise, whatever; when that person is close to his Lord, steeped in His Word and filled with the Holy Ghost, you can be sure that ‘his ministry will make way for him’!