Thoughts of a Country Preacher

The Monday morning ruminations of a pastor.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Quick (And Late) Post

There has been a lot of talk about polity and ecclesiology lately which is, in my opinion, a very good thing. One of the leading questions that people have explored is how a church should be governed. Should it be elder led? Should a church be congregational, or the seemingly most controversial today, pastor led? I’ve plowed this ground before, so if you want my answer to these questions, I would invite you to look here.

Today, I want to address something a little different. I do believe that a church should be congregational in nature, but at the same time, I believe that many of our churches have perverted the biblical understanding of congregational polity. In many of our churches, I fear that we have traded congregational polity in for democratic polity, though we have kept the name.

Democratic polity can be seen in churches that believe that all things must be voted on. These churches will desire a vote on all things – who to baptize, who to accept into church membership, when to have outreach events, how much money may be spent by the youth group on a given activity (even though there is a pre approved youth budget for them to draw on), everything. In democratic churches, the congregation itself cedes no authority to the pastor or any of its leaders, except for their influence.

This is however a perversion of congregational polity. In the biblical model, the congregation will vote to provide wide perimiters for their leaders to operate in – such as the ordination of leadership, budget, etc. However, once those perimeters are established, the congregation must trust and follow its leaders until they clearly violate biblical precepts.


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