Is the pastor the ultimate authority in the church?

From Change Your Church for Good: The Art of Sacred Cow Tipping (W Publishing Group, 2007) by Brad Powell:

I strongly believe that there must ultimately be submission to the primary spiritual influencer of the church, the pastor (Hebrews 13:17). Whether this person is the most gifted leader or not, he must be the primary force in the final decisions of vision and direction. The reason is simple. If the pastor does not fully embrace and communicate the vision and direction to the church, it will not become a reality. This isn’t about power but practical reality. Church structures that prevent the pastor from being a strong and positive spiritual voice and visionary to the people will not move forward in fulfilling God’s purposes for the church.

The verse which Brad cites to support his view of one leader with ultimate authority in the church is Hebrews 13:17, which says:

“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (NIV)

Note the plurality: “leaders,” “they,” “men,” them,”  “their.” God’s design for the leadership of his church is a plurality of godly men with complete parity. This structure of leadership is consistent throughout the book of Acts and the Epistles, where either a plurality of apostles, or a combination of the apostles and elders, and finally just elders (plural) are leading the local church.  For but one example of how decisions were made in the New Testament church, see Paul and Barnabas making their case to “the apostles and elders” (plural leadership) in Acts 15:3, 6, 22.  Then notice how “the whole church” was involved in the final decision, not just Peter.

The concept of one strong leader with ultimate decision making authority may work in corporate American boardrooms, but it was never God’s design for the church. Compare what Brad said above to what Peter said in 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NIV):

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.

Is the church’s character and calling shaped primarily by the word of God or by the prevailing culture?