We have worked on the front line with those involved in cults for decades and have a channel (no.15) on Global Vision TV (www.globalvision.tv) called Popular Faith Groups which has lots of info, but we continue to urge you to check your own situation as more and more independent churches spiral downwards into cultish behaviour when there is no accountability.
This is a serious issue although we know of Godly pastors who can’t GET Godly men to stand as elders and I know of one well known elderly pastor who has Godly women helping and supporting him for that reason.
Primary is to ask – do you have a pastor who SERVES you as well as leads? He must lead you to good pasture – feed you with good food – you must be thoroughly discipled, and there must be Godly elders in place – especially if there are more than a handful (10-12?) of sheep. In fact, some people even doubt that the title of ‘pastor’ is Biblical (my husband never uses it as a title) but is there to describe the function of the person just like evangelist, apostle, prophet or teacher .
Certainly, in larger churches, if your pastor also preaches away from home or has to travel for work and misses more than a few services in the year, then perhaps he should step down and allow somebody else who has the ‘pastoral’ calling to stand fast in that service to allow the former the freedom to become an itinerant preacher which may be HIS true calling.
It depends who is paying for it all of course. If they are not tent making but rely on offerings for their livelihood, then integrity makes its own demands.
There is much more to be said – but remember, if the pastor becomes sick or is not in the right place with God, and needs support and prayer and perhaps a sabbatical, there should be somebody else able to step into the breach.
Here is some wise counsel from a website which guides leadership and explains The Benefits of a Plurality of Elders*:
BIBLICAL ACCOUNTABILITY – Godly fellow elders are a great means for holding the pastor accountable to live, teach, and lead faithfully. In addition, sharing authority among a number of men can keep one man from wrongly lording it over the congregation.
WISDOM – There is more wisdom to be found in a multitude of counsellors (Prov. 11:14; 24:6)
BALANCE – No one man has all the gifts that are necessary to build up the church. Having a plurality of elders serves the church by bringing men with different gifts into the church’s leadership who can complement the pastor’s strengths.
BURDEN SHARING – Caring for the whole church is a burden God does not intend one man to bear alone. Even the most faithful, gifted pastor needs help from other godly men in order to pay careful attention to himself and to all the flock (Acts 20:28).
SETS AN EXAMPLE FOR THE CHURCH – Having a plurality of elders demonstrates that the work of ministry is not reserved for a select few. Rather, it provides an example of maturity for every man, particularly when some of the elders are men who work ordinary jobs and are not paid by the church.
For more info regarding cults etc, go to channel 15, ‘Popular Faith Groups’ – why do people believe what they believe?
*(Adapted from Benjamin Merkle, 40 Questions About Elders and Deacons [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2008], pp. 183-186)