Question:,Do you think that from the Bible one can infer some Church governance patters with hierarchy, roles, tasks? What should be the model of church governance? ,Answer:,I believe that one can infer a broad and general pattern for church leadership and organization in the New Testament. However, this is only a broad and general pattern. There are many different things that a local church or even a family of churches can do which fit this general pattern. There is no “right” structure for churches. A few general things apply, however.,1. Church leadership should be based on humility and on service, not on the worldly model of control and power. (Matthew 20:24-28). The church which ignores this most basic teaching is in very big trouble.,2. Church leadership in a mature church ought to include the roles of evangelists, elders (pastors, overseers) and teachers. A less mature church is less likely to have elders playing a major role for obvious reasons.,3. The qualities and role of elders is defined in 1 Tim 3:1-11, Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-4 among others. Elders ought to take the role of protecting the church and of provide wise leadership and oversight.,4. The role and qualities of evangelists is not listed directly and specifically, but in general their role is to evangelize, to provide leadership, vision and direction for the church.,5. The relative power and influence of evangelists and elders is left somewhat undefined in the Bible, although some passages can be helpful. I believe local churches and even families of churches need to apply wisdom based on their available men and talents to determine a leadership structure.,6. The role and qualities of teachers are not very specifically defined in the NT, although common sense can be quite helpful here! This is an often-neglected role of leadership and influence in the churches. Elders may very well be teachers, but the role is not limited to elders.,7. Many list deacons as part of the leadership. This is a bit debatable, as their defined role is one of service to a particular task. It is debatable and it may depend on the circumstances whether deacons will play a major role on overall church leadership.,It is very important to keep a balance here. On the one hand, some play very loose with the biblical teaching. They have a “pastor” who is really a minister or evangelist as the head of a church and downplay the role of actual biblical elders and teachers. There are many other structures and hierarchies which are out there which are not biblica. On the other hand, it is possible to be overly legalistic. Some have an extremely rigid view of how churches are to be organized–with the roles strictly defined and rigidly applied. I do not believe this is God’s intent. We are to use wisdom, based on the situation and available talent of the local church, along with common sense and our own experience to determine what will work best to accomplish the God-given work of the church.,John Oakes, PhD

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