Saturday, April 27, 2013

Practical Summaries of a Congregational-Based Church

  1. Congregationalism is the form of church government and polity we find modeled and practiced in the NT.  It honors the doctrines of the priesthood of the believer and the church as the Body of Christ.

  1. Congregationalism will only function effectively where there is a regenerate church membership and accountability-discipline.  Otherwise, carnal men and women can sow discord.

  1. Congregationalism is best practiced in the form of a representative model.  The church calls out godly leaders and the church willingly submits to their direction and leadership (Heb. 13:7,17,24; 1 Thess. 5:12-13).  We should wisely leave the everyday affairs of church life in their hands and banish forever monthly business meetings that provide opportunities for carnality.[1]

  1. Following God-called leaders does not mean that there is no accountability.  There needs to be some form of close or inner circle accountability.  So the single-elder and other elders are not lone rangers; they too are in a relationship of accountability.  A counsel of godly men around them, whether they be deacons or a non-official group, is wise and needed.

  1. We must affirm the biblical mandate to let the God-called leaders lead.  The church needs to submit to the leadership and direction of her pastor.  [2]

  1. Strong pastoral leadership is essential to the growth and maturation of the church.  Churches that are growing numerically, according to Thom Rainer’s extensive research, accept and follow strong leadership by their pastor(s) and staff members.[3]

  1. Someone has to lead.  Though many give counsel, share wisdom, and provide input, there nevertheless must be a leader.  However, when the people in the system are godly and spiritual in nature, consensus should be the goal.  Adrian Rogers said many times, “Anything without a head is dead.  Anything with several heads is a freak.

  1. People must be godly, obedient to the Scriptures, and controlled by the Holy Spirit for any church system to work.  The biblical principle of submission, the model of servanthood, and the motive of love are necessary for a God-blessed church who walks in unity.  Danny Akin writes, “Any system will work if the people are godly and mature.”

[1] I have never met a person who said that a church business meeting was an occasion for blessing and spiritual edification.  I have met many who have said that attending one was a spiritual low that dishonored Christ, harmed the gospel, and left bruised and battered saints.  There is wisdom in calling special meetings as major items of business dictate (church discipline, establishing or changing a constitution, calling a pastor, purchasing property, constructing buildings, approving the budget, etc.).  Here the congregation should be involved.
[2] If I disagree with a decision he makes, I have the right to go to him and share my concern.  But having done this I am then to get behind him and support his leadership.  Why?   Because he is the God-called leader of the church and I am not.  God tells me plainly to remember (pray for), obey and submit to my pastor because he (1) watches over my soul and (2) must give an account to God.  God wants the elders to serve the congregation with joy and not grief.  I do my part to ensure this by praying for him and following his leadership.  This is clearly biblical and we ignore or disobey God’s command on this point only to our shame and loss (Heb. 13:17).
[3] Thom Rainer is currently the President of Lifeway Christian Resources.  Formerly he was the Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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