Elder lead vs Congregation lead

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Berean, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. Berean

    Berean
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    I have been a member of a SBC Church for 39 years and basically have no problem at all with any facet of the denominations doctrine. It is nearer to 100% what I believe the Bible teaches then any other denomination whether they be main line or evangelical. I do have a question about Church Government. IMO or as I interpret scripture the Elder lead type is more in keeping with NT Teachings then the Congregationalist type. Has this always been the case in Baptist Churches in particular or is this a late bloomer?
     
  2. saturneptune

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    To be honest, the NT aligns more with elder than congregational. I was a member of a PCA church for 25 years, and elders ruled the church. One thing I noticed is that elders were usually elected on social status more than spiritual maturity. In fact, there was very little difference in the spiritual maturity of an elder and the average church member. That was not true in all cases, but certainly a majority. Except in the Baptist faith, elders imply a hierarchy. If one has a hierarchy, not only is the church in control of elders, but from above by a presbytery or some other organization. That is why I strongly support congregational government. I do not believe either form to be unBiblical, and the decision is up to each local church.

    In modern day history of Southern Baptist churches, the majority of churches are congregational, but elder rule is growing. Elders in a local autonomous church take on a different tone than elders subject to a hierarchy. At least elders in a local church have the capacity to govern the church, without interference from a higher level of government.

    I do not know what the majority of Baptist churches did for a government back when the 1691 confession was written.
     
  3. Revmitchell

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    First the convention is a coop not a denomination. And the congregational led churches has been the dominate form in the convention since its beginnings.
     
  4. saturneptune

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    That is true. A denomination must have a hierarchy.
     
  5. Salty

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    Incorrect - a denomination does not have to have hierarchy!
    The SBC has no power over a local church other than to dis-fellowship a church.

    The second definition of a denomination is a group that has similar beliefs.

    If I was President of the SBC, I would have no authority to go into Rev Mitchell's church and demand he wear a tie and white shirt when he preaches. Even though it is a clear command in Hezekiah 3:34
     
  6. Crabtownboy

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    Salty is correct. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines denomination as:

    The idea that the SBC is not a denomination is a long held, popular but erroneous belief among many. I am not sure why so many believe this to be true.
     
  7. Mexdeaf

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    It is not true because the congregations are autonomous (they own their own property, choose which Bible versions to use, what lessons for Sunday School, etc.) and do not belong to the "religious organization"- they affiliate with it. There is a far cry difference between the United Methodists or the Catholics and the SBC or any other Baptist Group that I am aware of.
     
  8. Crabtownboy

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    The definition negates nothing in your response. One of the commonly held beliefs that bind Baptists together is the belief in local autonomy.

    You are right there is a difference between various religious groups and the definition does not claim otherwise.

    Blessings.
     
  9. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Never mind!
     
  10. Thomas Helwys

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    Yes, but there is a far greater degree of uniformity among Southern Baptists than any other denomination I know of. I had it put to me one time by a Methodist like this: "Southern Baptists don't have a creed, but they live up to one. Methodists have a creed but don't live up to it."
     
  11. Tom Bryant

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    back to OP

    Most Baptist churches are "elder" led. They may call their elders deacons or staff.

    I believe that a congregation ought to be the final say, but how that looks is different for each congregation. Some churches have to have a business meeting to determine all sorts of little issues that probably ought not to be put before the congregation. These churches are usually small and will be kept small by a congregation micro-managing the staff or leadership.

    For our church, the congregation calls the pastor, ok's the budget, votes on deacons and must approve any non-budget item above $300. But the cong. has approved various committees, both standing and temporary, that administer the various aspects of the church.
     
  12. Mexdeaf

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    Good point. My folks are UMC and, well, they are good people- but the requirements to get into Heaven are much more stringent.
     
  13. Jerome

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    Straight from the horse's mouth:

    (Website of the Southern Baptist convention)

    http://www.sbc.net/aboutus

    "A Closer Look - links to information about why we are a denomination, why the SBC organized as a convention, the roles of local churches, individuals, ministers, state conventions, and local associations within the Southern Baptist Convention."
     
  14. Tom Bryant

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    I meant to add that there is a difference between elder led and elder ruled. For me, elder led is a different means of congregation led.
     
  15. Revmitchell

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    "Baptist" is a denomination. The SBC is a group within the Baptist Denomination that cooperates for the purposes of missions. The SBC is not a Denomination.



    And there is a clear distinction between being elder led and elder ruled.
     
  16. saturneptune

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    If you have something to say, say it.
     
  17. saturneptune

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    Your last paragraph is true. In the first paragraph, who said the SBC is a denomination, I sure did not. Another point, several of the posts equate deacons and elders running the church. They have nothing to do with each other. Deacons are servents, without governing authority. Elders do have governing authority. It is true that the qualifications in Scripture are similar, but their function is vastly different. If a local Baptist church has a board of deacons with no elders, then the congregation is the governing authority. In the case of deacons that do rule the church, they have exceeded their authority and the congregation has not protected their right to govern. In the PCA, for example, there are a set of deacons and a set of elders. No doubt they cooperate on certain ministries, but the functions are totally different.
     
    #17 saturneptune, Feb 22, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2013
  18. Oldtimer

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    That's the case with my church. We have a pastor and a board of deacons. We do not have elders. Periodically, the chairman of the deacons will open a "church conference" during the announcements portion of Sunday morning services. Usually these involve approval of a capital expense of some nature. Once in a while, an amendment to our by-laws comes under discussion. With the latter, prior notice is given so members have time to study the proposed change. That's just two examples, BTW.

    Our deacons do not have "governing authority" nor does anyone outside of our church, including the SBC nor our local Baptist association.
     
  19. Crabtownboy

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    We do not have deacons. When the mission, now a church was being set up and the topic came up someone asked, "Has anyone ever been in a Baptist church where the deacons did anything other than cause problems and play politics? No one had and so it was decided, no deacons.

    We have ministry groups. Every member and regular attendee is expected to be part of a ministry group. We have monthly meetings where the chairperson of each group is expected to attend, and anyone else who has something they want to talk about. This group discusses whatever is at hand and can make recommendations to the church. The church as a body then discusses the topic and votes it up or down at a regular business meeting.

    Our philosophy/theology is that every person attending the church is a minister, just called to different ministries. One of the primary roles of the pastor is to help the other ministers in the church prepare for and carry out their ministry or ministries in the world ... including the workplace. In our area there are numerous workplaces that the pastor cannot enter, unless signed in and accompanied and at least one large employer where no one except employees can enter for any reason ... now that I think about it, there are several large employers where this is true. If the people of the church, the ministers of the church do not take Christ with them, then Christ will not enter these places of work.
     
  20. saturneptune

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    OT and CTB,
    The last two posts are right on target.
     

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