I am concerned as to the proper leadership/governmental structure the Bible demands of a local Church. Can you explain how God expects this to work (Pastor vs. Elders vs. Authority vs. Staff)? My pastor seems to be “ruling” the flock?
To cover this would take a lengthy series of lessons but I can give you the basics to get you started.
What I am about to give you is “what the Bible says”…. it is not within the scope of this answer section to thoroughly argue whether certain things men have chosen to do with regards to church structure is “right or wrong”. I am going to mention a couple of things that seriously concern be, but overall, this is not an attempt to argue the points.
What the Bible does say about the Church:
- Christ is the Head – Eph 1:22;5:23
- Meets regularly – Heb 10:25
- Meets for Communion on the first day of the week – Acts 20:7
- Membership is spiritual and universal for all who are truly saved – 1Co 12:13
- Is to be spiritually shepherded by a plurality of Elders (Pastor, Bishop, Elder – all the same word, the same thing in the Bible) – Acts 14 & 15
- Deacons are to be appointed for administration and managment of church responsibilities – Acts 6:1-6
- God gives different members different gifts but all are for the good of the entire body – 1Cor 12
- Godly women are to teach the younger women – Titus 2:3-5
- All members are to be humble servants, prefering the good of others before themselves – Roms 12;1; 12;10; Col 3:12
Here are some things that are in practice today in churches that are not addressed or specifically proposed in Scripture:
- Paid, fulltime, professional Preachers (in Scripture we find only full time traveling Evangelists). The closest we get to the modern paid Preacher in Scripture would be an extension of 1Tim 5:17-18 which concerns Elders
- Paid staffs, administrators, leaders, directors, facilitators
- Church buildings, facilities and complexes
- Governing bodies such as the Southern Baptist Convention, the Roman Catholic heirarchy or various mainstream organizations (Presbytarians, Methodist, Assembly of God, etc)
Again, I’m not attempting to argue here whether any of these things are “wrong”; I’m simply pointing out that the Bible does not directly point them out specifically.
Along this same line, here are some of the more modern developments that are not in the Bible, and frankly, can be a cause for great concern:
- Churches dominated, controlled and dictated by a single personality… typically one Pastor or the founding publicly-visible personality (where it is patently obvious that the church in question is identified by, and exists on the popularity of this person)
- Churches were Elders are not spiritual overseers but political dictators and authoritarians
- Churches where the Elders are not Shepherds but glorified managers or “super Deacons”
- Churches that totally ignore the Biblical structure and just make up their own organizational structure.
In my opinion, by far the most dangerous unScriptural church organization issue today is the incredible amount of churches which are led (controlled?) by a single “personality” who “makes or breaks” the popularity of the church. This has resulted in the epidemic “church hopping” we have today where nominal Christians “shop” churches based on the “awesome Pastor”. That’s a harsh statement, but unfortunately, it’s true.
Following closely after that, is the danger of “governing bodies” that have authority over local churches which results in “politics” and power-mongering in the Church.
To close on a positive note, here is a one sentence summary of Biblical church organization:
The church (the “called out” community of believers) is to be a self-governing, local, autonomous body which is spiritually shepherded by a plurality of Elders; administrated and managed by Godly Deacons; and where every individual is gifted by God to fulfill their specific purpose within the body in humble submission to the spiritual leaders God has placed them under.