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One Pastor and Church Government (Part 6) - Biblical Church Government

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Watch the video of this sermon on YouTube: One Pastor and Church Government (Part 6).

For a master copy of the outline and the other sermons in the series, click here: One Pastor.

To listen to or watch the previous sermon in the series, click here: Part 5.

VI. How would a church function if it was large enough to need multiple elders?
1. If a church was large enough that one pastor could not oversee it and care for the flock adequately, then additional elders could be ordained to share the load.
2. As was already shown, if there were multiple elders in a church, there would be one head pastor who would direct the others and ultimately be responsible for the care of the church.
3. The head pastor would be responsible for setting standards and executing church discipline.
4. "...smaller churches only need one pastor/bishop/elder to lead and take care of the flock, while larger churches need several pastors/bishops/elders, with one responsible pastor/bishop/elder to lead and take care of the flock." (Ben Townsend, In Defense of One Pastor, p. 34)
5. If the members were all concentrated in one small geographical area and all met in the same place each Sunday for worship, then the pastors could share the teaching and counseling responsibilities.
A. They could alternate preaching every other Sunday, or one for could do the Sunday preaching and the other the Bible studies.
B. The church could be divided alphabetically by their last names and each pastor could be responsible for the problems and concerns of their respective group.
i. In this case the head pastor would be appealed to in the case of an irresolvable problem.
ii. This would be similar to how Moses ruled the nation of Israel when it was too much for him to do single handedly (Exo 18:13-26).
C. A large church could also be divided into smaller churches with each having its own pastor which would solve a lot of logistical (and other) problems.
D. If this were done, it would probably work best to divide the church along geographical lines to avoid the strife associated with deciding who would be members of which church.
6. If the church were spread out across a larger geographical area and were meeting in smaller groups with an elder responsible for each group, then smaller churches could be constituted of those groups and each church could have its own pastor.
VII. Should deacons have the rule of the church? How about using Roberts Rules of Order?
1. Primitive Baptist churches are oftentimes ruled and controlled by deacons, and church business is conducted according to Robert's Rules of Order, both of which are unbiblical forms of church government.
2. Each local church is to be ruled by its own pastor (elder, bishop, overseer, steward, preacher, minister) (Heb 13:7; Heb 13:17).
A. The one who has the rule of the church is the one who speaks the word of God to them, not the deacons (Heb 13:7).
i. He is the one who labors in the word and doctrine, not the deacons (1Ti 5:17).
ii. It is the elder/bishop/pastor who must be apt to teach, not the deacons (1Ti 3:2)
iii. It is the elder/pastor that is the feeder of the church, not the deacons (1Pe 5:2; Act 20:28).
B. The pastor/bishop is the steward of the church, not the deacons (Tit 1:7).
i. Steward - An official who controls the domestic affairs of a household, supervising the service of his master's table, directing the domestics, and regulating household expenditure; a major-domo.
ii. One minister can perform all the duties of rule in the church and he doesn't need a board of deacons, elders, or trustees to assist or control him (Tit 1:5; Luk 12:42).
C. Deacons were only ordained for one purpose: serving widows' tables (Act 6:1-6).
i. They were ordained for "this business" (serving widows' tables) (Act 6:3).
ii. Nowhere in scripture are deacons given the rule of the church.
iii. Nowhere in scripture are deacons given a teaching office.
D. The scriptures alone should be used to govern the church, both in doctrine and in practice (2Ti 3:16-17; Psa 119:105).
E. There are no Robert's Rules of Order in the scriptures.
VIII. Should the church be a democracy?
1. What's so special about a pastor? Can't all church members take part in the oversight and rule of the church?
2. Pastors have a special calling from God to serve as His ministers in His churches.
A. Ministers are separated unto the gospel (Rom 1:1).
B. They are separated for the work of the gospel (Act 13:2).
C. They are called by God to preach the gospel (1Co 9:16-17; Act 16:10).
D. God makes them able ministers of the New Testament (2Co 3:6).
E. God puts them into the ministry (1Ti 1:12).
F. The Holy Ghost makes them overseers (Act 20:28).
G. Their ministry is given to them by God (2Co 5:18).
H. Their ministry is a gift from God that comes by the laying on of hands by another ordained minister (Eph 3:7-8; 1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6).
I. The gift of the ministry continues to be passed from one ordained minister to another throughout time (2Ti 2:2; Tit 1:5).
3. None of the offices of the ministry have ever belonged to all the saints (1Co 12:29).
4. There are high qualifications to be a pastor (1Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9).
5. As it was with the OT priesthood, no man takes this honour unto himself (Heb 5:4).
A. Those who try to will be judged severely by God (Num 18:7; 1Sa 13:8-14; 2Ch 26:18-21).
B. Korah held to the idea of a democratic church government.
i. He thought that every member of the congregation was equally blessed by God with the ability and authority to rule, and he tried to usurp Moses' God-given authority (Num 16:1-3).
ii. God showed that day who His ministers were and destroyed Korah and his company (Num 16:23-35).
iii. No weapon that is formed against the servants of the Lord shall prosper and every tongue that rises against them in judgment they will condemn because God is with them (Isa 54:17).
IX. Practical examples of proper church government
1. Baptism
A. The decision of whether or not a candidate is qualified for baptism is made by the pastor (Mat 3:7-8; Act 8:36-38).
B. Once the pastor has determined that a man meets the Biblical qualifications for baptism, if possible, before baptizing him he should ask the church if anyone has any Biblical reason that the man shouldn't be baptized (Act 10:47-48).
C. This allows church members to make the pastor aware of something that he was ignorant of concerning the candidate.
2. Church discipline
A. Church disciplinary proceedings are lead and overseen by the pastor (1Co 5:1-5; 1Ti 1:20).
B. The pastor brings the case against a commonly known sinner before the church for them to judge him.
C. The discipline is executed by a majority vote of the church; it is inflicted by many (2Co 2:6).
D. Restoration of a penitent man after a year of exclusion is accomplished by the church at the request of the pastor (2Co 2:7-8).
3. Ordination
A. The examining, proving, training, and ordaining of a pastor is the pastor's duty, not the church's (Tit 1:5-9; 1Ti 3:1-7; 2Ti 2:2).
B. The ordination of a deacon
i. If the pastor determines that there is a need for a deacon because there are sufficient widows in the church which need food taken to them, he will ask the church to select a man of high moral character to be considered for the office (Act 6:1-5).
ii. Once the church selects a man, the pastor will examine him and prove him before ordaining him to the office of deacon (1Ti 3:8-13; Act 6:6).
4. On black and white issues that arise in the church or in church members' conduct, the pastor, as the executor of the word of God, has the authority to cite a verse of scripture showing what ought to be done or not done and the church must obey his instruction (Heb 13:17).
A. Examples of such black and white issues are:
i. The pastor has the authority to (and must) instruct the church to observe communion and to use the proper elements to do so (1Co 11:23-25).
ii. The pastor has the authority to (and must) instruct the church to observe the ordinance of feetwashing (Joh 13:14-17).
iii. The pastor has the authority to (and must) instruct the church to sing hymns a cappella (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16).
iv. The pastor has the authority to (and must) instruct the church to assemble together and not forsake doing so (Heb 10:25).
v. The pastor has the authority to (and must) instruct parents to discipline and train their children (Pro 22:6; Pro 23:13-14; Eph 6:4).
B. The pastor has the authority to tell the church, or any church member, to do what God tells them to do in the Bible.
5. Executing the fine details of scriptural commands concerning church matters is the pastor's prerogative. Examples of such include:
A. Determining when and how often communion is to be observed.
B. Determining when and how often feetwashing is to be observed.
C. Determining how many songs are to be sung in the church service.
D. Deciding who prays and how many prayers are offered in a church service.
E. Deciding the subject and length of the sermons that are preached in church.
F. A wise pastor will take into consideration the needs and concerns of church members when making these decisions.
6. Resolving disputes between church members
A. As the overseer the pastor would oversee the court-type proceeding wherein one church member is requesting a judgment to be made by the church in a matter of disagreement with another church member (1Co 6:1-8).
B. As the overseer the pastor would pick some wise church members to hear and decide the case (1Co 6:4-5).
C. The pastor would not be the judge since those chosen for the task are to be "least esteemed" (non-elders) (1Co 6:4), whereas the pastor is to be highly esteemed (1Th 5:13).
7. Gray areas
A. There are judgment calls that the pastor must make in gray areas when it comes to church and personal conduct. Some examples are:
i. What type of clothing qualifies as modest apparel in church and in public (1Ti 2:9).
ii. What constitutes hair that is too short on women and too long on men (1Co 11:4-15).
iii. What type of electronic devices are allowed in the church service.
B. Gray areas such as these are either not addressed in scripture (electronic devices in church), or are not spelled out in fine detail (the precise length of hair that constitutes too long or too short, or the precise length a dress or skirt must be).
C. In areas such as these, the pastor must make a decision within the framework of the Bible that he can live with in his own conscience (1Ti 1:19).
D. A wise pastor will try to give as much liberty to the church as possible and not create rules and standards that are not absolutely necessary.
E. If the pastor's decision is within the guidelines set forth in the word of God, then the church must submit to it.
F. If a church member can't live with the decision, he can find another church.
G. If the church as a whole can't live with it, they can ask the pastor to leave.
8. Non-church ministries
A. A pastor can decide to hold midweek Bible studies that are not church services if he chooses.
B. In that it's not a church service, it's not mandatory and church members can decide whether to go or not.
C. The Bible study is the pastor's personal ministry, not a church ministry.
D. That being the case, it is entirely up to him if, when, where, and how he does it.