Proper Church Organization
Denominations are typically ruled by an ecclesiastical form of government. There will be synods, councils, general assemblies, and conferences.
Some churches even have presidents who preside over them. On June 19, 2012, Fred Luter, Jr. was elected the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention. There was a great deal of fanfare at the time that a denomination arising out of the American Civil War had elected an African American.
There was never, however, given authority to uninspired men to legislate for the church.
Some find authority for councils, conferences, and the like in the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15). However, there is a major difference. The apostles were present (Acts 15:2, 6). The Holy Spirit guided the decision-making process (Acts 15:28).
Obviously, this type of church organization rejects the authority of Jesus over his church.
The Church is a Monarchy
Jesus is the supreme head of the church. Colossians 1:18. Ephesians 1:22-23. Matthew 17:5. Matthew 28:18.
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. John 14:16. John 15:26-27. Matthew 16:19. Jesus never delegated this authority to any others than the apostles.
The Autonomy of the Church
When we speak about the autonomy of the church, we mean the autonomy of the local church/congregation. Autonomy, of course, is the right of self-government. There is absolutely no mention in the New Testament of any person, eldership, or “mother church” have any kind of authority over another church.
“The wisdom of God is seen in such an arrangement for his churches. If one became corrupted in doctrine or affected by evil practices, other churches would not be so affected. If dissension arose in one, it would not spread to the others; if one perished, the others would not be dragged down. If a window is made of one large pane, a break injures the entire pane; but if it be made of several panes, it is not so bad to break one. The independence of the churches is a protection for each one” — H. Leo Boles, Gospel Advocate, February 15, 1940.
Many, however, fail to understand the wisdom in the simplicity of God’s plan.
The Holy Spirit has taught that elders (presbyter), bishops (overseers), or pastors (shepherds) be ordained in every church. Titus 1:5. Acts 20:17, 28. In each church, there is a plurality of bishops, not a plurality of churches to one bishop.
The work of bishops:
- Take heed to themselves and all the flock; feed the flock (Acts 20:28).
- Help the weak (Acts 20:35).
- Exhort in sound doctrine and convict the gainsayers (Titus 1:9).
- Admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, and be longsuffering toward all (1 Thess 5:14).
- “Shepherd the flock of God which is among [them], serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2-3).
- Visit the sick (Js 5:14).
- Watch over the souls of Christians (Heb 13:17).
The qualification of bishops: 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Titus 1:5-9.
Duties of the church members: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. 1 Timothy 5:17, 19. Hebrews 13:17.
First deacons are selected (Acts 6:1-6).
Qualification of deacons (1 Tim 3:8-13).