Monday, July 6, 2009

Church Government

How is a Church to conduct business? We are posed with this question because there are many differing Church "models" that we see out there.

I believe in the Local Independent Baptist Church. I believe that a Church is to stand solely upon the word of God (KJV) for all things pertaining to it's doctrine, and practice. When we veer away from the Bible, and drift into tradition we are subject to all kinds of error. Just because something is antiquated, does not mean that it is right. I believe that the Church is to be run in the manner that God would have it to be run. (As it does belong to him). We can be sure that with all the different types of "models" we see, that they cannot all be the same, or even all be correct. If that be true we could say there is nothing amiss with the hierarchy system of Catholicism, and most of Protestantism; but we know that these systems are full of egregious errors that are reprehensible to the Bible believing Christian. What type of government is a Church to have, while still pleasing God? We see in the world today many types of governments, namely: Democracies, Monocracies, Representative Republics, Dictatorships, and only ever seen in ancient Israel was a Theocracy.

In reading the "Trail of Blood" I find that Mr. Carroll presents the idea that a true Church is to have a pure democracy as it's form of government. This idea is perpetuated throughout the rank and file of Churches today, and in some Churches it seems to work fairly well, but in others it sends things into total chaos. Most of the SBC Churches today are going to have this model of government, as well as your other Associated type of Churches. This system allows the membership the ability to control all the goings on within the Church setting. Many Churches using this model will inevitably revert to using boards, or committees to handle most matters. These boards, in many cases will have the ability to sway the Church in the direction they choose, whether the Pastor approves or not. In such cases the Pastor is relegated to a position of mere pulpit supply, and will be removed as soon as he says something a committee does not approve of. In a pure democracy the vote of the majority always has final say, and there can be little or no discussion about the outcome. What if the majority is wrong? Most any Pastor you speak to will admit that most Church members are simply incapable of making truly important spiritual decisions. Should a Church be left to that kind of leadership? In a true democracy as the majority rules; it stands, but what if the majority wanted to worship a pine tree, who could stop them?

Another form of government in the world today is a monocracy. This form of government will have a King who is appointed by birthright, that will typically have elected, or appointed Princes, or Senators (Ministers, etc.) under him. The King in this form of government is not the total supreme leader; as he has others delegated to various responsibilities, but he wields enough power to not be messed with. In this form of government the King will pass his power down to his son (typically his firstborn) at or near his death. This will take place until the people grow discontented, and throw him out of his position. (Usually killing him) This would not be good in a Church! Sadly I have noticed this form of governance taking place within many IFB Churches. There are some good points to this model, namely; the Pastor does not have a yearly establishment (As we see many Democratic Churches doing), he also does not reign as a dictator but has some sort of checks and balances placed upon him. The evils of this model though are found in that the Church will typically crumble when the Pastor leaves or dies unexpectedly. Another woe to this model is that many Pastors children are not called into the ministry by God, but rather by mom and dad, in order to fill the shoes of dad when he gets ready to retire or die. If God does not call a man into the ministry he needs to go and find him an honest job; no matter how well of an orator he may be! I believe that a Church should be able to stand with or without any one particular member. (That is not to say that it would not hurt.) I have always believed that if a Church could not make it without me; I need to leave, because they are not trusting Christ but me; and that holds true for any member!

America was established with the finest form of human government upon the earth; a Representative Republic. We the people democratically elect Representatives to voice our desires for our Country in their various forms of leadership. (America is drifting fastly away from this!!) These officials are sworn to uphold, and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign, and domestic. They are not to change the Constitution, but uphold it. (It is our right to change it.) Without doubt this is the finest form of human government in existence. It does not work well within a Church though; even though we see it all too often. These Churches are going to be the types where the people use the deacon, or some other member or committee to forcibly persuade the Pastor to do things against Gods will. The people within these Churches will typically go to a Deacon, rather than to their Pastor for advice, and would rather him just stay out of their business, and just say something nice on Sunday. While this is a wonderful form of government for a nation, it is a rather lousy form of government for a Church; because it removes the Pastor from his God placed position of authority, and places some other usurper into his position, turning it into a Bananna Republic rather than a Representative Republic.

We also see dictatorships in the world today. (I Fear America is falling into this form of government.) We see examples of this in Cuba, Venezuela, and other places. Typically there will be some sort of a raving madman in the leadership, and if anyone dares question him they will be quickly banished to imprisonment or even put to death. Many people will be quick to say that anytime a Pastor gets any authority they do not like; that he is a dictator. Or sometimes when a Pastor has to do something that somebody thinks he shouldn't, they will say "He's being a dictator." I suppose that this may take place from time to time within a Church setting, but I doubt that it has ever been common. I can say this with confidence for two reasons; 1:A dictator must have the authority to imprison (When has a Pastor ever had that!?) 2: People flee in droves from dictators. Usually what we see when a Pastor is being accused of being a dictator it is by somebody who wants him to leave and them to stay; while in reality people flee FROM dictators. If it were possible a dictatorship would not work within a Church setting, and it barely works in a national setting.

The other form of government mentioned is a Theocracy. We only ever see this model perpetuated in ancient Israel, before they sought themselves a King. I understand fully that Israel and the Church are two totally different entities, and I reject 100% reformed doctrine; but I also understand the helpful similarities between the two. When God led his people out of Egypt he did it by the hand of a man whom he had chosen; Moses. God was King in Jeshurun, and Moses was his earthly appointee to guard over, lead, guide, teach, and shepherd Israel. This was a pure form of a Theocracy. Israel was Gods peculiar treasure, and he had a special way for them to be governed, a man whom he had chosen was to stand in the place for them, and tell them what God wanted for them to do. Moses was no one to mess with, when Miriam and Aaron did they found out why. When Korah, and his bunch did, they found out that you don't mess with Gods man. Today a Pastor is appointed to feed the flock of God. He is to care for their spiritual needs, and make sure they don't mess up with temporal things either. The Pastor is to faithfully declare the will, and word of God to his people. He is to have the authority to do Gods will, as God; not man gives him the authority to do so. When he stands and speaks we are to reverence his words as the true words of God himself! We find places where Moses messed up; just as there will be times when any Pastor will mess up. At these times we must remember to honour and respect him, and let God deal with him; just as he did with Moses. While the organization is totally different, the position is virtually the same between The Church and Israel, and Moses , and the New Testament Pastor. This will be the proper way for a New Testament Church to be governed; for it does belong to God, not a board of trustees. This does not give a Pastor total authority, but God.

When we view the proper government for a Church we again must remember to check tradition at the door. I have been attempting to do this for some time now, and have found that in all the teachings of the Bible it will make them much easier to understand. We cannot allow for error within the Church, as the day is at hand when Christ will return. If we will take the teachings of the whole Bible, and realize that the Church is precious to God, we will desire to do things right in his sight. I have forborne placing scripture references within this article, I do have plenty; those of you who still prefer the models of Democracy,Monocracy, Representative Republic, or Dictatorships, can you provide any scriptural or logical explanation as to why you would not support a Theocratic form of Church government?
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