DEFINITION OF THE DAY (THE GOVERNMENT OF THE CHURCH)

leaderThe fact that God has gifted each member of the church does not mean that the church is to be without leadership. To the contrary, the NT speaks of God’s calling out leaders for His church for the building up of the body (Eph 4:11-16). The officers of a NT church are pastors (called “overseers” or “bishops” or “elders”) and deacons (1 Tim 3:1-13). These men are gifted by God and called out from the congregation to serve the church.

The pastor is called to lead the congregation by teacher the truth of Scripture, by setting a godly example, and by shepherding the flock (Heb 13:7). The ultimate decision-making of the church, how of Christ. The NT writers confronted various issues of conflict within church life. They often addressed these issues of polity not to a supra-congregational “board,” but to the congregations themselves (1 Cor 5). As such, each member of the congregation is responsible before God for decisions of the local body. The called leadership of the church, however, bears an even greater responsibility before God (James 3:1) as those who will give account for the soul of each member of the congregation (Heb 13:17).

Because each congregation is so gifted and responsible for internal polity, the local congregation does not submit to external control. Churches may cooperate together for the work of the kingdom of God. The early church, for example, called a council of church leaders to address pressing doctrinal questions vexing congregations (Acts 15:1-35). Similarly, Paul called on and organized local churches for the relief of impoverished fellow believers in other churches (2 Cor 8-9; Phil 1:15-18).

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