The Church is about 2000 years old. She has experienced numerous things in her lifetime; some wonderful, and some not so
good. One of the blights on her record has been the innumerable schisms and divisions that has weakened and damaged her.
Actually, there were times when division needed to take place that the plan of God might be preserved, but far too many times
the divisions were unnecessary and even destructive. One of the reasons for splits within the Church during these many
centuries has been over the area of church government. A perusal now of the Church reveals there are almost as many types
of church government as there are churches!
If I may, I would like to offer something for further consideration in the area of church government. This is perhaps such a
radical, new approach to church government it may be difficult to wrap around. But, nonetheless, I will do so. First of all,
please hear me when I say that this is not intended to be divisive, neither is it meant to be condemn any particular church,
church group, or denomination.
What am I doing in this brief essay is to simply go the Source rather than making an attempt to reason or analyze. I fear the
reason we now see so many church government models is because men have failed to seek the answer from the Answer and
have instead turned to good ideas, ideologies, and paradigms that have worked in other arenas. It is my belief we must go to
the Word of God and then we will have God’s mind on the subject. So, to the Word we go.
As we search the Scriptures, we discover that it seems God made no apparent attempt to establish a definite and clear
governmental model for the Church. Or did He? Is it possible it is right there for us to see, but in its simplicity we fall all over it
as we go on searching? That may be what has happened. Like so many things in the Kingdom of God, it is so simplistic that the
reasoning man can’t see it. Perhaps this is a good place to ask the question: “Should we depend upon reasoning when dealing
with Kingdom issues?” The answer is all too clear when Paul the great apostle separates spiritual things from natural things,
and calls upon the covenant people of God to view all things by the Spirit and not according through carnal eyes. See this
principle in I Corinthians 2:14 "But the natural man does not receive the things of the
Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.”
So, with spiritual eyes, let’s begin to look again at the Bible to see if that illusive church model is actually there for us.
APPOINTMENT OF CHURCH LEADERS
Most people usually place the beginning of the Church at the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God enlivened the saints and
set them on course to fulfill the plan of God. So let’s begin there on our journey of discovery. One thing that should be noted
is that just prior to the day of Pentecost the gathering of disciples and the followers of Jesus came together to replace Judas
as one of the twelve. They cast lots in order to choose which of the two men whom they had chosen from the assembly would
fill this sacred office of apostle. Matthias was the replacement. The question for us to consider is this: “Should we consider
this election and lots casting program as God’s official method of selecting church leaders?”
Actually, it seems like we have to stretch quite a ways in order to accept some type of popular vote or committee action as the
means by which God appoints His leaders. This is because there are no other places in Scripture where this is His mode of
calling. In every other situation, it is quite simple: He just looks at a particular fellow and says, “Follow Me.” This may happen
directly as when Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee and called Peter, (Matthew 4:19) it can happen through a prophetic word
as in the case of the apostolic commissioning of Saul and Barnabas at Antioch, (Acts 13:1-3) or it maybe through a direct
appointment by the apostolic authority of Paul through young Titus who was sent by him to Crete to appoint elders in the
churches. (Titus 1:5) Each of these scenarios looks a lot different than a 100 people getting together and attempting to “call”
someone to lead them. It seems far to easy for such a lofty task. Perhaps that is why some groups have not used this method,
or it may be that they simply feel that to place in this task in the hands of a single person is just too risky – what if he made a
HANDLING MONEY WITHIN THE CHURCH
We don’t have to look very far into the Church’s history to see how financial things run within the church. In Acts 4 we see
where it says the saints brought their offerings and just laid them at the feet of the apostles. Where was the church treasurer?
What about the finance committee? Was the accounting system adequate to the task of tracking every dollar that came in? Can
we really trust the preacher? Oh well, that was in ancient Israel; of course, today we need MORE accountability in our churches
than they did.
Financial duties are clearly administrative tasks within the government of the local church. We see no finance committee or
special finance manager in the early church; but are we to conclude that such a simple system is just too simple for us in the
modern church? We are accustomed to complex financial systems in other areas of life, but is it too much to ask of us to accept
the simple method of letting the saints just lay their tithes and offerings at the feet of their pastor? If he is the divinely
appointed man of God for that church, does God not anoint him to handle this duty in no less manner as he does to hear His
voice and to feed the saints the good Word of God from the pulpit? Thought provoking, huh?
HANDLING DIFFICULT ISSUES WITHIN THE CHURCH
I sat talking to a preacher friend of mine recently about preacher stuff. He recounted to me when in his denominational church
how the such-and-such committee handled a certain matter involving infidelity in the minister of music. I did not hear him say
anything about the pastor of the church being involved in this serious issue. The absence of the Senior Minister in this matter
reveals a curious thing, and that is the fact that the one who is “called to lead” actually does not lead, but simply does what he
is told to do. Huh? Maybe that is what Jesus calls a hireling.
When Paul encounters a serious matter in one of his churches, he meets the issue head-on. Isn’t that what real leaders do? If
the pastor of a church is truly called and appointed by Jesus, who is the Head of the Church, then is he adequately anointed to
deal with even the tough problems that can happen in a church? Or, should we elect some committee or council for such
There are good things to be said for democracy. It works wonderfully in a political sense, as the good, old USA can attest.
However, is the right to vote just as good and just as effective within the framework of the Church? Apparently many churches
feel it is right since they use the vote as the means by which they govern their church. It is not our place to judge them. But, it
would seem that if God wanted us to utilize a democratic system of government in His church, He would have made it very clear
What about the possibility of error in a single-man system? Doesn’t it seem awfully prone to mistakes relying only on one man?
What if he has a “bad day,” doesn’t the church pay a real price? If we were to look at it through carnal eyes, the prospects of
such a church government seems flimsy and given to the whims of one man; however, it just might be that God does not look at
things like we do. He might see strength in a method that depends totally upon Him. He might just be able to handle the man
himself and insure that we are in good hands under this system – in His hands, not in his hands. And maybe, just maybe, that if a
group of folks were to actually walk in faith toward God with respects to the government of their local church that God would
honor their faith and abundantly supply through His chosen vessel.
And, as we are exploring these radical concepts, should we not stop off at Ephesians 4:11 and discuss the fact that God has
actually raised up five ministry offices to lead His church? Perhaps the five, working in tandem, should comprise the
government of the Church. That seems likely. Then we have five heads (hearts) leading the saints and lending five different
viewpoints to the equation. There must be a reason why Jesus appointed for Himself five offices.
|Governing The Local Church