Church Structure

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Daughter, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. Daughter

    Daughter
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2000
    Messages:
    194
    Likes Received:
    0
    At Bible study last night we were looking at church structure. We were looking at Ephesians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 12:28 and briefly looked at the five-fold ministry.

    The church I go to doesn't have elders as such, but the structure is roughly like this:

    Pastor
    Deacons/Ministers
    Heads of Departments (eg Sunday School, Music, Youth Ministry, etc)
    Congregation

    There's many more roles but that's my church's pattern (at local level). How is your church organised? What do you think the biblical structure should be?
     
  2. mman

    mman
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2005
    Messages:
    743
    Likes Received:
    0
    Phil 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,


    To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons


    This is the organization given in scripture.

    There are various names given to the elders in scripture. The terms elders/pastors/bishops/shepherds/overseers are describe the same office. The qualifications are found in Titus 1:5-9 and I Tim 3:1-7.

    While some men today use the term pastor to mean "chief" or "head" minister/preacher, the bible does not use it in that sense. From the passage you stated in Eph 4:11, it is evident that there is a difference between "the evangelists" and "the pastors". Three verses in the New Testament include the word “pastor” (in various forms): here in Ephesians 4:11, Acts 20:28, and 1 Peter 5:2.

    In Acts 20:28, Paul refers to pastors, however, he uses the verb form of the word, which is translated “to feed” (ASV) or “to care for” (ESV). In Acts 20:17 we see that Paul had called for the "elders". Likewise, Peter instructs these servants to “act like shepherds” as they “oversee” the flock of God (1 Pet. 5:2). This exhortation is addressed to “the elders” (1 Pet. 5:1). We observe how the words “bishop” and “elder” are interchangeable in another passage as well – Titus 1:5-7.

    Also of note is that elders/pastors/bishops always serve in a plurality over a single congregation (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:1-2).

    The deacons also have qualifications as found in I Tim 3:8-13.

    Then you have the saints or christians.

    So, where I worship, we have a plurality of elders that meet the qualifications found in scripture who oversee the flock. We have a plurality deacons, who meet the qualifications found in scripture, who act as special servants. Then we have the saints, or christians. Those who preach, or the evangelist, do not hold any special office or authority, rather they are in subjection to the elders.
     
    #2 mman, Jun 1, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2006
  3. Link

    Link
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0
    Biblical church structure:

    Church government:

    Apostles, in the initial stages of a church started by apostles, may help tend to a church as elders mature in that church.

    Elders-- older men who mature to the point to meet the Biblical qualifications. The Bible charges these men to pastor the church of God.

    The brethren-- the brethren in the church are a part of 'church government' as well.


    Church administration:

    apostles and elders, see above.

    Deacons-- Deacons have a role of _service_, though not government per se, unless they are also elders, etc.


    Other 'five fold ministries'-

    Prophets and evangelists have speaking gifts. Prophets speak messages they get from the Spirit as the Spirit moves them. Evangelists have a gift to proclaim the Gospel to unbelievers, which shows up outside church meetings. Many of them have edifying things to say to the church as well.

    'Pastor-teachers' are gifted to teach and tend others. Ephesians 4:11 does not say that 'pastor'= overseer of the church. I suppose a novice in the faith could have a budding gift of pastor, but not yet live up to the elder/overseer qualifications.

    In addition, there are those who minister by exhorting the congregation, singing, speaking in tongues, and interpreting, and using various other gifts.

    Apostle, elder/overseer, and 'brethren' are the roles that have to do with church government. Apostle, elder, deacon, and brethren deal with administative issues
     
  4. Link

    Link
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0
    Biblical church structure:

    Church government:

    Apostles, in the initial stages of a church started by apostles, may help tend to a church as elders mature in that church.

    Elders-- older men who mature to the point to meet the Biblical qualifications. The Bible charges these men to pastor the church of God.

    The brethren-- the brethren in the church are a part of 'church government' as well.


    Church administration:

    apostles and elders, see above.

    Deacons-- Deacons have a role of _service_, though not government per se, unless they are also elders, etc. except in their role as brethren.


    Other 'five fold ministries'-

    Prophets and evangelists have speaking gifts. Prophets speak messages they get from the Spirit as the Spirit moves them. Evangelists have a gift to proclaim the Gospel to unbelievers, which shows up outside church meetings. Many of them have edifying things to say to the church as well.

    'Pastor-teachers' are gifted to teach and tend others. Ephesians 4:11 does not say that 'pastor'= overseer of the church. I suppose a novice in the faith could have a budding gift of pastor, but not yet live up to the elder/overseer qualifications.

    In addition, there are those who minister by exhorting the congregation, singing, speaking in tongues, and interpreting, and using various other gifts.

    Apostle, elder/overseer, and 'brethren' are the roles that have to do with church government. Apostle, elder, deacon, and brethren deal with administative issues
     
  5. Chemnitz

    Chemnitz
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2001
    Messages:
    2,485
    Likes Received:
    0
    The easiest way to describe our is "bloated." I think we could benefit from an organizational diet.
     
  6. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    There are only 2 Offices in the Assembly (church) of New Testament, which are the Deacons and Elders as we read 1 Tim 3:1-13.

    Ephesians 4:7-11 is talking about the Grace according to the Gifts of Christ ( v 7), Christ gave the gifts unto the Captives (v 8)
    He gave such gifts as Apostles to some, as Prophets to some, as Evangelists to some, as Sheperds and Teachers to some. ( Greek Poimen should be Shepherd as in other verses (1 Pet 5:4, Acts 20:28, Luke 2:8)

    Therefore these are the issues different from Elders and Deacons. In the above we don't find Elders and Deacons at all. Also, in 1 Tim 3:1-13 we don't find any mentioning about the Pastors.
    Peter was an Apostle but called himself as an Elder in 1 Pet 5:1.
    We find Elders were also called as Overseers ( Bishops) as we read Acts 20:17 and 20:28 where Paul called Elders of Ephesus church and then called them Overseers ( Episcope) in v 28.
    We must ditinguish between Offices and Gifts ( Talents) and should note that there are only 2 offices according to the NT which means Elders ( also called Overseers or Bishops) and Deacons, while the Gifts are many, given by Christ.

    Yes, there can be several types of Elders, some may be teaching Elder as ( 1 Tim 5:17), ruling Elder ( 1 tim 5:17), Pastoring Elder, Administrating Elder etc.
    Also the qualification mentioned for Bishops in 1 Tim 3:1-7 is more less the same as the one for Elders in Titus 1:5-9

    In our church we don't have anyone titled Pastor, but we have not had any problem with the administration during the past 30 years, dispatching many Evangelists as missionaries to the world.
     
    #6 Eliyahu, Jun 5, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2006
  7. Link

    Link
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0
    I wrote,
    >Apostle, elder/overseer, and 'brethren' are the roles that have to do with church government. Apostle, elder, deacon, and brethren deal with administative issues <
    Those passages do not say that these are the only 'offices.' It happens to deal with two church roles, but not mention all the rest. I read that in KJV English 'office' mean 'role' such as 'the office of the tongue is to speak.' The word 'office' or a word with the same meaning does not show up in the Greek, I have read.
    'Apostles' are mentioned far more many times than elders in New Testament scripture. In Acts, we see that they played a role in church government for a time until deacons and elders developed in the congregation.
    Paul preached the Gospel and had a role of spiritual authority in the churches he planted, and appointed elders. How can one say this was not a church government role in scripture?
    I suppose the problem is that apostles do not seem to belong to any one local church. So you could say they are not officers of the local church. They are involved in 'the work' and the work produces churches. They had a 'measure of rule in churches started through their ministry.
     
  8. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    1. If we read 1 Tim 3:1-2, there is a distinction between Office of Episkope and Episkopos

    Episkopes (Επισκοπησ) in verse 1 means the Office of Overseer or which may be called Overseer-ship. a Female Noun
    Episkopos (Επισκοποσ) in verse 2 means "an Overseer" a Male Noun.
    There is no word for Office, but it is expressed by the conjugation or surfix of words.

    2. Peter was an Apostle apppointed by Lord Jesus, but calls himself as an Elder ( 1 Pet 5:1) whose function was to sheperd ( ποιμανατε : verse 2 of the same chapter)

    3. John was an Apostle too but calls himself as an Elder ( 3 John 1, 2 John 1)

    4. Philip was a Deacon but also called as an Evangelist ( Acts 21:8) and worked as such in chap 8.

    5. Stephen was a Deacon but I believe he was a great teacher and Prophet performing miracles ( Acts 6 : 8)

    6. Elders existed since the time of Moses ( Ex 24:1)
    Elders existed at the time of Jesus too and 24 elders were among the Sanhedrin members.


    Elders and Deacons are another criteria different from the issues of Apostles, Teachers, Pastors etc.

    If Pastors (Shepherds), Evangelists, Teachers, Prophets are the offices, then what are the qualifications required for such positions?

    Why there is no mentioning about how to select such pastors, evangelists in the Bible?

    As for the Apostles, they were selected and chosen by the Lord and existed only at the time of Early Church. They had seen the Lord in person and sent by the Lord.

    Agabus was a Prophet ( Acts 21:10) but what was the requirement for such office? There is no mentioning about it.

    Why do the churches have the Title Pastor whose qualification is not mentioned at all in the Bible and have them rule over the Deacons and Elders whose qualifications are clearly mentioned in the Bible?
    Moreover the colleges of Theology ordain the Pastors even though they don't have the qualifications as the deacons in 1 Tim 3:8-13 or the Episkope in 1 tim 3:1-7, while no Elder can preach the gospels on the Pulpit unless they are graduated from the college of theology even though they are fully qualified according to 1 Tim 3:1-7. This is the tragedy of today's churches.

    Normally the more important positions are mentioned in the Law or in the Constitutional Law, and they exercise the power over the positions which are not mentioned in the Law. If the qualification of pastors are not mentioned in the Bible, they are less important than the Deacons. The reality is paradox to the Bible.

    Therefore we must distinguish between Office and Gifts.

    I sometimes disagree with my own church - so called Plymouth Brethren, but as far as this kind of NT church organization matters, so-called PB made the excellent discernment, I believe.
     
    #8 Eliyahu, Jun 6, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2006
  9. Dave

    Dave
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2004
    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is a very interesting thread. I have wondered about this issue myself as it seems strange that the elders and/or deacons hire a man to be the pastor, who then is the authority over those who hired him. This makes no logical sense and now I see, probably no scriptural sense either.

    I do have a question though. I sincerely just want your reaction to this thought. If the word pastor means shepherd, then does the term carry authority with it? Remember one depiction of Christ is as The Good Shepherd, and He certainly has authority. Is this a valid linking of the concept of shepherd and authority? If so, does that provide a basis for the idea that the Pastor has the authority over elders and deacons in the church?
     
  10. Eric B

    Eric B
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2001
    Messages:
    4,806
    Likes Received:
    2
    It seems the Church has copied, first the secular government, then later the secular business model of "administration", and the biblical "office" names just fell into place in the new system, becoming "professional executive" 'titles' and they don't necessarily match what they originally were supposed to be.
     
  11. mman

    mman
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2005
    Messages:
    743
    Likes Received:
    0
    Three verses in the New Testament include the word “pastor” (in various forms): Ephesians 4:11, Acts 20:28, and 1 Peter 5:2.

    In Ephesians 4:11, the expression “pastors and teachers” most likely identifies a single group.

    In Acts 20:28 the verb form of the word, which is translated “to feed” (ASV) or “to care for” (ESV). Note, Paul is talking to the elders (Acts 20:17). Therefore, the elders are to pastor. They were told to “take heed . . . to all the flock” as “bishops” (i.e., overseers or administrators). We observe how the words “bishop” and “elder” are interchangeable in another passage as well – Titus 1:5-7.

    In 1 Peter 5:1-2, the elders are told to “tend” or “shepherd” the flock of God.
    These terms – elder, bishop, and pastor – are used of the same service in the church.

    The modern-day “pastor” system is a departure from the New Testament pattern of church organization. Scripture never talks about “the pastor” of a church. There is always a plurality.
     
  12. Link

    Link
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wouldn't that be a feminine noun, rather than female? Paired body parts tend to take the feminine in hebrew, even if they are a man's.

    The were also both quite old when they wrote this. I Peter 5 makes another reference to age, evidence for the fact that elders were older men, when he says likewise ye younger submit unto the elder.

    Also, there was another John in Ephesus, according to tradition, called John the Elder.

    I don't know if Stephen was a prophet. I think these are cases of men functioning in both an 'administrative office' and a ministry that comes from having a spiritual gift. It may also show how faithful deacons can be entrusted with other spiritual things.

    It would seem the ancients had _older men_ advising or leading in certain areas.

    To be gifted by God. I don't see 'pastors and teachers' as a position over the elders, but rather as a spiritual gift. If someone has the gift, but is not an overseer, then he does not operate as an overseer. However, overseers are told to pastor and are to be apt to teach. So of course there are a lot of 'pastors and teachers' who are overseers.

    Maybe because we are just supposed to recognize their gifts. If there were ordination for prophet, would Paul have written 'if any man consider himself a prophet or spirirtual? God makes men prophets.
    [/quote]

    I tend to agree with Plymouth Brethren on major points about church government. I also believe in apostles, though I have run accross one or two in the movement who have a similar view on this. The Local Church Movement that came out of China has brethren roots and Watchman Nee believed in apostles, and had a fairly biblical argument for what they are.
     
  13. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    NT offices

    Code:
           OK, I meant feminine and masculine, but the main point is that they are different matters,i.e. Overseer-ship and Overseer which means Office of Overseer and Overseer   
    The were also both quite old when they wrote this. I Peter 5 makes another reference to age, evidence for the fact that elders were older men, when he says likewise ye younger submit unto the elder.

    Also, there was another John in Ephesus, according to tradition, called John the Elder.
    Code:
      If you read 1 Pet 5:1 carefully, you can find Peter was not talking about his age, but he emphasize he is also an Elder: Does Peter say to them 
    " Ye oldmen, I am an oldman as you are" ? Does Oldmen administer and pastor the NT churches?     

    I don't know if Stephen was a prophet. I think these are cases of men functioning in both an 'administrative office' and a ministry that comes from having a spiritual gift. It may also show how faithful deacons can be entrusted with other spiritual things.

    HTML:
    I believe Stephen preached the Gospel, taught the people, perform the miracles ( ac 6:8), and did many things for the Lord. Deacon was his position and he showed many gifts.
    
    Actually the position "Pastor"dominates the most of the churches today.
    The Point is that the word "Pastor" as a position doesn't show up in the Bible, which was intentionally translated from Poimen in Ephesians 4:11. All the time Poimen meant Shepherd about 30 times in NT. Why does Bible omit the qualification for such important position in modern churches?


    Ordination of a prophet or Ordination of Miracle Performer doesn't make sense. Such gifts are proven only by their works and behavior.

    Watchman Nee received the Gospel thru a sister in the Lord who was PB, who may have received the gospel thru Hudson Taylor. Nee quotes JN Darby often. He may have the view on NT church organization similar to PB
     
    #13 Eliyahu, Jun 7, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2006
  14. Link

    Link
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0
    Eiyahu

    I think we hold to a similar concept of pastor. For me, I can see two views on it. One is that a 'pastor' is basically an elder. The other is that it is a gift that some people operate in without being elders, but do not have any 'official' authority to rule, or 'stand before' like elders/overseers do.

    Btw, the I Peter verse does say 'older men'-- or at least presbuteros could be translated that way. Try reading 'older men' into all verses about elders. Paul and Barnabas appointed older men in the churches.

    now, imagine that 'older men' can refer to the 'older men of the church' or of a nation who are selected to rule. The word 'older men' still contains the connotation, nay, denotation of referring to older men, but can refer to a specific set of older men in certain contexts.

    The NIV renders the singular of the word 'older man' in I Timothy 5:1, but then translates the plural as 'elders' in verse 17. This is not consistent, but it does show that the translators recognized that the word can refer to age. We need to keep this in mind when we read the word as well. The I Timothy 5:1 usage, in context, does seem to imply they were older. So does the verse I pointed out in I Peter 5. The word 'elder' means they are older in English, as the Greek term does.

    From what I have read, the churches associated with Nee were in fellowship with some exclusive brethren in Australia, not realizing they were exclusive (not aware of the contraversy perhaps). The Australians split with them over the non-exclusivity of Nee and the Chinese churches. Nee had had communion with some non-exclusives like T. Austin Sparks, I think, and some others on a trip to England.
     
    #14 Link, Jun 7, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2006
  15. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    Olders and Elders

    1. It is not difficult to distinguish and discern between Oldman and Elder when Prosbuteros is used.

    1 Tim 5:1 talks about the Elderly person, or Oldman as a singular representative.

    1 Tim 5:17 talks about the Elders who have been ordained according to the biblical teachings such as 1 Tim 3:1-7.

    Any confusion between 2 meanings will lead to the misunderstanding about this office.

    1 Peter 5:1 points to the Elders at the church because there can be a strong tendancy for such elders to be lording over the flocks. Do Elderly person feed the flocks ? (1 Pet 5:2) Do they lord over the flocks ?
    Any common elderly persons are the examples to the flock?

    Peter is talking about the Elders who have been chosen according to the biblical standard, telling them that they should not lord over the flocks, not to feed them by constraint, etc. Younger believers must obey to the Elders at the church.

    Pastors can be accepted if they are functioning as a pastoring elder, but they must be qualified according to the biblical standards in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Pastor or Evangelist can be accepted as function names, not the title or office of the local church.
    In PB, everyone is called either Brother or Sister. If anyone is an Elder, we recognize him as a Brother working as an Elder. Likewise, if anyone behave as a Pastoring Elder according to the Bible, it can be OK.
     
  16. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    0
    Watchman Nee

    He was greatly influenced by PB even after he departed from PB.
    I was in PB but departed from them, thereafter rejoined them again.
    There might be several reasons why Nee left PB. He might have different view on Revelation. His interpretation on Rev is at least better than the one based on PB's dispensationalism which I disagree to. I don't know he had any connection with PB in Australia, but he might have had the sympathy with Newton who was condemned by JN Darby. In that process PB was split between Closed and Open, which was a great pity, IMO.
    However, I don't include Witness Lee in the discussion, though he claimed to be the successor of Nee. Lee is totally different from Nee, IMO. Nee was a great believer in Jesus while Lee created many followers following himself, not the Lord, IMO.
     

Share This Page

Loading...