The Organization of the Church
The church that our Lord Jesus built is congregational. This means the church of Jesus is to function as a self-governing assembly. According to the scriptures, every local group of saints in the New Testament was autonomous. The head of the church, as all denominations and non-denominational churches alike know, is Jesus Christ. However, if one claims allegiance to a creed, or a board of directors, or some other governing authority, a heiarchy is created, which is not based upon a Biblical premise. This placing of people above Jesus, is subverting the headship of Jesus, in a practical sense (even though one who has a creed may say, “but I believe the church’s head is Jesus, too”).
The fact of the matter is, God wants governing, or ruling, authority, in the church, at the local level. However at any level larger than the local level, we need to know there is only one leader, and that is Jesus. He built a church, (Matthew 28:18 ) for which he died (Matthew 27:45-51) and unto which he has spiritually married (Romans 7:4).
When considering the government of a church at the local level, one must have the confidence that Jesus is the one King (Matthew 27:37) of the kingdom (Hebrews 12:28). But serving under the great shepherd, (John 10:11) is a great responsibility. We all are to serve under the heavenly bishop or shepherd: Jesus (Acts 14:23, 1 Peter 5:4, 1 Peter 2:25, Philippians 1:1). Those who occupy the role of “bishop” or “shepherd” or “pastor” (these terms are interchangeable), in the local church, are biblically only allowed to oversee the work of the local flock with which they are working (Acts 20:17, Acts 20:28, 1st Peter 5:2-4, 1st Timothy 3:1-7, Hebrews 13:17). Furthermore, if one in a leadership position is appointed to be a “bishop” or “shepherd” or “pastor” they must serve in a plural capacity (Philippians 1:1). If you will note from the letter to the church at Phillipi, there were a multiplicity of both “elders” or “bishops” as well as a multiplicity of “deacons”.
Deacons are special servants of the local church to which they are a part. A deacon is to meet certain qualifications in order to serve in that leading capacity (1st Timothy 3:8-13). Furthermore, an “elder” or “shepherd” of a local church equally has qualifications to meet (1st Timothy 3:1-7).
Leadership is important at every level of life. Jesus has designed a system wherein people qualify with certain over-riding qualities, that cleary place them as leaders in a local church.
Catholicism has a pope. That is one leader over “all” local churches. That is foreign to the Biblical arrangement. Some churches have one pastor and they call him their “Preacher”. A preacher may in fact be a pastor, but only if he is working alongside another pastor, and only if he meets the qualifications spelled out in the books of Timothy and Titus.
For example: a pastor must be, “not a novice” [e.g., he’s spiritually older] (1st Timothy 3:6). A pastor must be “the husband of one wife” [i.e. he must be a man, and he must be a married man] (1st Timothy 3:2), a pastor must have “believing” or “faithful” (Titus 1:6) children [ thus he must have offspring, and they must be Christians, and they must not be living a reckless life, Titus 1:6]. There are over 15 qualities of qualification for this leadership role that are mentioned in 1st Timothy 3. Furthermore, Titus 1, and the Epistle of Peter, display more examples of why there is to be organization in the local church.
We need to strive to become leaders. Young men need to equip themselves to maintain the life that will one day lead toward the pastoring, leadership positions, in a local church. One does not have to be an evangelist in order to be a pastor of a local church; nevertheless, one must always strive to be “blameless” and above reproach, in the world in which we live. In this way, the church will function with the arrangement the apostles and Christ have taught us about within the holy pages of the Bible. By: J.R. Rosado