I recently finished Mark Dever's excellent book entitled The Deliberate Church. This is a book well worth reading. But something caught my attention.
Dever rightly defines elders as pastors. He says "A pastor, then, is an elder, and an elder is a bishop/overseer—all three terms refer to the same office and the same work of pastoring" (p. 131, appealing to Acts 20:18-38 and Titus 1:5-7; cf. 1 Peter 5:1-2).
Curiously, he later says "Churches can get away without having elders. It happens all the time. But the biblical pattern is consistent, and the practical benefits are clear, both for the pastor and the congregation" (p. 135).
Now, if elders are pastors (as he rightly says), then how does a church get away without having elders? Surely he is not going to appeal to the plural form of elder vs. the singular form of pastor. He seems to be saying that a church with a pastor is getting away without having elders.
Which leads to my point: Our imprecise use of these terms has created much confusion, and led to a bifurcation of the office of pastor. It leads us to talk of "elders" and "pastors" as if they are two different offices. It seems that Dever falls prey to this several times throughout his book.
If we assert that elders are pastors, and pastors are elders, then let's quit referring to them differently.