Presbyters vs Congregationalism

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Berean, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. Berean

    Berean
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    I had an interesting discussion with a fellow Brother and member of my SS Class recently relating to Congregationalism led churches vs Presbyters led Churches. We are both members and have been for close to 50 years. He is a Deacon and I am not. This discussion was in relation as to just how much the Congregation should know as it relates to the physical operation of the Church. We agreed that it was not feasible in a Church of our size to inform everyone of every minute detail of all the goings on but in my opinion we were too covert in our Church Business Meetings and information passed on to the members. We would be classified as a large (not mega) Church. We have a deacon body in excess of 50. This is what I told him. In my opinion I felt that 95% of the members did not know what goes on and probably the majority of those don't care. Of the remaining 5%, 4% think they know what is going on because or their association with a staff member or a relative or friend of a staff member. I'm not saying this is good or bad, this is my observation, it may be best. To some degree most successful corporations and large companies operate in the same manner. Are all SBC Churches Congregationalist?
     
  2. Revmitchell

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    All SBC churches are congregationalists. It can be easy to fail to reveal much of what goes on in larger churches. The larger the church the harder it is for accountability.
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    The congregation's members (in any church) should have access to all matters concerning personnel, finances, leadership, and strategy of their local church.

    While pastoral ministry matters, particularly counseling sessions and aspects of the benevolence ministry, should be kept in strict confidences, other areas should be open. If you are part of a church where things such as salaries, benefits, budgets, personnel hirings & firings, and other matters like this are kept under wraps that isn't a proper congregationalist church.

    No church, regardless of size, is free from the accountability and oversight of their membership.

    Now, how decisions are made depends on the congregation. There is no need for an absolute congregationalist democracy where every decision is left to a vote of the church membership. Instead the principles of representative democracy where the leaders are authorized to make decisions should be a primary rule. Major decisions (what these are should be determined by the Bylaws) are left to the congregation but the day-to-day functions are given to the leaders who are under appropriate oversight.
     
  4. TadQueasy

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    That is not really true tho, is it? I know there are some elder led SBC churches in our area.
     
  5. Revmitchell

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    Elder led or elder rule. If it is an actual elder led it is still a congregational church. If it is elder rule then they are working contrary to Baptist distinctiveness.
     
  6. Jerome

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    From VI. The Church, The Baptist Faith and Message:

    Malcolm Yarnell (SWBTS) comments on this in The Baptist Faith and Message 2000: Critical Issues in America's Largest Protestant Denomination (2007):

     
  7. Jerome

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  8. Revmitchell

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    Apparently there are a small number of rogue churches in the SBC.
     
  9. Thousand Hills

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  10. Iconoclast

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    No one here can show where this is not biblical.Some are more concerned to be baptist,than biblical.
     
  11. preachinjesus

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    James MacDonald has no business talking to Southern Baptists about ecclesiology.

    His form of polity is that he makes the rules. He leads with an authoritarian vice grip on the congregation. That isn't an effective model for the vast majority of churches and it has proven to be faulty historically.

    That said, I've always maintained that there are multiple, valid options for local church leadership and polity as provided by the New Testament. While I believe that congregationalism is the most effective for most churches, I don't believe that it should boil down to "we vote on everything."
     
  12. OnlyaSinner

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    I would agree with the last paragraph. (I've no knowledge about Mr. MacDonald.)

    Our church leaders have looked thru the New testament on this matter, and find the account in Acts 6 to be instructive, though there are other relevant texts as well (Acts 15, Matthew 18, and others.) In Acts 6 the apostles directed the people to choose "men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom." Then the people chose the seven, by what means scripture is silent though I make an inference, below. Following that, the apostles laid hands on the seven, and afterwords God blessed that church with many being saved. We have no apostolic authority today beyond that within the N.T., but the Acts 6 pattern, in which leaders set the sideboards, the congregation makes the choices, which are then endorsed by the leaders (which should help avoid foolish choices) seems a biblical framework.

    How were the men chosen? My guesswork is based on the fact that all seven had Greek names, inferring that the Greeks/gentiles (who had raised the objections which led to these proceedings) were the majority. Thus I think it very possible that the Greek citizen method, democratic vote, was employed. One cannot be dogmatic, however, given that our sovereign God chose not to provide the details.
     
  13. Jerome

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    Please explain this phrase.
     
  14. Yeshua1

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    We have an Elder board, but we also have the members deciding the major issues of the church such as the budget, as the Elders more into the spiritual operation of the church...
     
  15. OnlyaSinner

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    directed the people to choose "men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom."

    This is, IMO, the Acts 6 example of "setting the sideboards." Leaders provide guidance as to the scope in which the congregation can make their (the congregation's) choices. At our church, nominations for elder and deacon are solicited from members (including the current leadership), then leaders vett the nominations received and discuss with those nominated concerning their calling, qualifications, and abilities. Some nominees decline, some do not meet the qualifications in 1 Tim. 3, and those which meet those qualifications and are willing/able/called to serve will be presented to the membership for their approval (or otherwise) at the annual meeting. (Note: "Qualifications" refer strictly to those spelled out in the NT. None of our leaders feel they are "fully qualified", but wish to serve God however He directs.)
     
  16. Jerome

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    Thanks, but what does "setting the sideboards" itself mean? I've never encountered that lingo before. Is it some sort of slang in your dialect?
     
  17. Thousand Hills

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    Just a guess, but some flat bed commercial/agricultural trucks and trailers will have stake pockets for "sideboards" that you can remove depending on what you are hauling. You can leave them in or take them off.

    So in my mind its what he says the elders set the perimeter/boundaries and the congregation has free reign within those boundaries.
     
  18. OnlyaSinner

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    Your guess is as good as any (I was thinking more of the sideboards of an ice hockey rink, but the farmer's vehicles are likely an older source.) And what you said is just what I meant when using the word.
     

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