The Organization of the Church
*The bible describes specifically the organization of the church. The guidelines are there for us to follow today, but they aren’t followed by denominations.
*Let’s first look at the name of the church and the individual. As you know, there are dozens of denominations out there, all bearing different names even though the bible outlines what the church should be called.
*Romans 16:16 says, “the churches of Christ greet you.” The early churches were called the churches of Christ. We also read that they were titled the “churches of God” in passages such as 1 Corinthians 1:2. Although this term is referring to God the Son (Acts 20:28), either name is okay. In fact, any name outlined in the New Testament is permissible to use.
-So why can’t the church be named another way? Ephesians 5:24 compared the Christ-church relationship to the husband-wife relationship. The church is subject to Christ in all things. Would it be okay for a wife to take another man’s name when she marries her husband? Of course not!
*The individual is referred to as a Christian. There is no other name in the entire New Testament for us to wear. Acts 11:26 says, “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Acts 26:28 reads, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” The terms Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, or Lutherans are not mentioned anywhere in the bible!
*Another scriptural characteristic of the church is its autonomous structure. In other words, the church is to be independent and self-governing. There should be no higher organizations or denominational structures.
*Acts 20:28 reads, “Therefore take heed to YOURSELVES and to all the flock...” This was written as an instruction for the elders in the church at Ephesus. Paul did not tell the elders to “take heed to yourselves and all of the other flocks.”
-1 Peter 5:2 says, “Shepard the flock of God WHICH IS AMONG YOU, serving as overseers.” The same instruction is given. The elders are to Shepard the flock which is among them. There is no indication of denominational structure mentioned.
*Let us now look at the different roles in the organization of the church. There are three main roles mentioned in the New Testament- elders, deacons, and preachers.
*As we read above, elders are to shepard the flock. It is their duty to oversee the church. They are to ensure that what is taught is entirely true and that the disciples are led in the right direction. Their qualifications are outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and also in Titus 1:5-9. They’re referred to also as bishops, shepards, stewards, and overseers. The word pastor, which is often used to describe preachers in various denominations , means “a shepard”. So pastors are elders. They are to be men. Women cannot be elders.
-Men who desire to be elders must fulfill all the qualifications. If they fail to meet even one requirement, than they cannot be an elder. Some churches have no elders because there are no able men to meet the qualifications. This same rule applies to deacons.
-It should also be noted that there has to be a plurality of elders. Every passage that speaks of elders refers to more than one. There cannot be just one elder at a church.
*Deacons are the servants of the church. We are, of course, all servants, but deacons are a special type of servant. Their qualifications are outlined in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Deacons serve under the elders and are also men only. If there are no elders, there can be no deacons. Although not a whole lot is said in the bible about deacons, we know that their duties include serving the church in any way they need to be served. We can get an idea of the duties of deacons in Acts 6:1-6.
*Preachers are a must. There must be some man to preach the gospel every first day of the week. In 1 Timothy 2:7, we read that preachers are “teachers of the gentiles in faith and in truth.” 2 Timothy 4:2 proclaims that preachers are to “Preach the word!”
-Woman cannot fulfill this role either. We will study the role of woman in the church in the next lesson.
Study #4: The Worship of the Church