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Church Government

Monday, March 2, 2009 2 comments

With all of focus on theology and doctrinal issues, many times the governance of the local church is overlooked. All of the different titles can be confusing. However, the most important position to know is that Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18). This post will hopefully help clear up any confusion anyone may have.

Before I began looking at each position, lets look at what positions are actually biblical. Philippians 1:1 says "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons" From this verse we see the people of the church are the saints, bishop(s) and deacons. I will look at these each individually.

The Saints

By calling the Philippian believers saints, Paul was not saying his readers were sinless. The Greek word he used, hagioi, means "those set apart." This is a reference to everyone who by salvation has been sanctified (set apart from sin in Christ). 1 Corinthians 1:2 "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours"

The Bishop(s)

The first thing to understand about the title Bishop, is that it is also called other names. The Bible uses Pastor (Ephesians 4:11), Elder (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), and Bishop (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7). All of these titles mean the same. In Philippians 1:1 Bishop is plural. My understanding is that the plurality is dependent on the size of the congregation.

The primary duty for a Pastor is to instruct the congregation in God's truth (1 Timothy 4:13-16; 2 Timothy 4:2). They are also to be overseers and shepherds (Acts 20:28). The qualifications for this position can be found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.

The Deacons

Many reference Acts 6: 1-7 as to the purpose of deacons. Deacons provide a voluntary leadership position under the Pastor to assist him. The qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 are similar to that of a Pastor. Notice verse 8 starts with "Likewise." I find it odd how some churches are correct by not supporting female pastors, but allow female deacons.

Lastly I will look at different styles. There is much debate over Pastor led, plurality of elders, and congregation led forms of government. After looking at the roles of each position, my conclusion is that a congregation led church has the least amount of biblical support. I tend to favor a Pastor led style. How I came to this conclusion is based on the role of the Pastor. How is he suppose to be an overseer and a shepherd if he is not leading? Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating a dictatorship. As far a a plurality, I only find this necessary if the congregation is very large. I will end by making a comment in regards to denominations, the early churches were autonomous and did not report to any central office.

2 comments: to “ Church Government so far...

  • MikeT March 3, 2009 at 7:38 AM

    I think a cooperative relationship between the pastor and elders is important because the tension between two sides of a government can keep problems at bay.

  • DILinator March 3, 2009 at 9:17 AM

    Good topic Craig!

    I agree that a Pastor-led church is most Biblical, and while there should certainly be accountability, plurality of leadership can sometimes lead to a lot of problems. When the rubber hits the road, there needs to be somebody to have the final decision, and final responsibility in the event that the idea goes bad, and that should be the appointed Pastor. If the congregation doesn't trust a Pastor with that prominant of a role, they should probably not have picked that person for Pastor in the first place. And if it has nothing to do with the person, but rather the concept of being under a person in that position of authority, then they should examine their own hearts to see why they feel that way.

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