The Structure of the Church
- Welcome to the study of a new subject
- For this quarter we shall study the structure of the church (The church of Christ)
- Other names for the structure of the church are as follows:
- “Church Organization”
- “Church Government”
In this study, these three phrases will be used interchangeably.
- You are encouraged to approach the study with a “proper frame of mind”.
- This means that you should approach it with an “open mind”.
- In other words, you should be willing to accept new teachings from the subject matter with no prejudice.
- Some of you may have some previous knowledge and experience in the subject matter already. However, you are encouraged to remain unbiased and unprejudiced throughout the study of the course of study.
- In John 8:32, Jesus tells us, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Therefore, we are going to base our study on the truth which is the Bible.
- The subject of study has been divided into many lessons. These lessons are based on teachings of the Bible.
Why study the structure of the church or church organization?
There are several reasons why we study church organization. These reasons are hereby enumerated:
- God wants his church to be organized.
- God is a master planner and organizer.
- Therefore, he wants his church to be well planned and organized.
- God is a God of orderliness.
- God does all things decently and orderly.
- He does not do anything at random of haphazardly.
- 1 Cor. 14:33 says that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, in all churches of the saints
- For this reason, he has put all the structures in place in the church for effective governance.
- To prevent the occurrence of Power- struggle in the church.
- Another reason for studying church government is to prevent power struggle which most often can lead to conflict in the church.
- When power struggle is prevented from happening, conflict in the church will be of non-existence.
- We study church government because of the predictions(Prophesy) of early departures from the church.
- In 1 Tim 4:1, the Bible predicted a falling away from the faith.
- The Bible also predicted that some would change and prevent the gospel of Christ. (Gal 1:7)
- The apostle Paul warned the elders from the church at Ephesus to take heed to the flock over which they were overseers (Acts 20:28)
- The apostle Paul also told these elders to feed the flock (the church) or teach the members because false teachings would come to the church.
- That false teachers would arise and lead away disciples from the church which Christ purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28-30)
- We learn from church history that this prophesy about early departures from the faith was fulfilled after a few years of the establishment of the church:
- Men began to depart from the faith.
- False teachers began to lead away followers.
- Church leaders began to rule in ways not approved by God. Began the type of organization found in the Roman Catholic church and other denominations. It was the leadership of the church that was first corrupted.
- One of the first ways that men left the Bible was in the area of church organization:
- Elders began to rule over more than one church.
- Then “bishops” began to rule the elders.
- Men continued to change the Bible plan of church government until a “Pope” was finally elected. The word “Pope” is not found in the Bible. It came into existence after men had departed from the truth.
- This is why studying church government is very necessary. By understanding how men have left the truth so we can avoid their mistakes.
- Because of Pride
- Another reason we study church organization is pride.
- Human pride easily corrupts any leadership
- Pride is the development of self-glory.
1.It is a great temptation to any leadership.
d. In any organization when someone has a position, his desire is to get another greater position.
1. In the same vain, where a leader has some power, he strives for more power.
2. This is why leadership in the church is so easily corrupted.
H. Pride is dangerous for every person.
A. According to Matthew 20:20, the mother of the apostle James and John made a special request to Jesus. She wanted her two sons to sit at either hand of Jesus in His Kingdom.
1. These apostles were like men of today. Don’t be a judge for them.
2. Men usually are not satisfied to become humble servants in the church. Many will seek the greatest power they can attain.
I. Human pride easily corrupts church leadership. Therefore, this study is important.
CONGREGATIONS ARE USUALLY AS GOOD OR AS BAD AS THEIR LEADERS
- Apostle Paul realized this fact as he called the elders from Ephesus to speak to them. (Acts 20:17-30)
- The apostle Paul knew that most churches follow good leaders and become strong, or follow weak or evil leaders to become bad churches.
- The Holy Spirit’s plan is for good elders or overseers to be in every congregation (Acts 20:28). Strong leadership makes a strong church.
- Strong leadership comes with making great effort.
- It is the result of much teaching and practice.
- Leaders of God’s people must be well-prepared and well trained.
- There is the most important work on earth.
- 2 Tim 2:2 shows us that those who have been taught should be able to teach others.
Prepared by Joseph J. Foray Snr. (Elder/Minister. Church of Christ, Oforikrom English Assembly, Kumasi, Ghana)