Don’t Fire Your Church Members: The Case for Congregationalism
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Church membership is not just a status, it’s an office. Members don’t need leaders to fire them from the responsibilities given to them by Jesus, they need leaders to train them. When pastors do, the church grows in holiness and love, discipleship and mission. Not only that, the complacency and nominalism that characterizes so much Christianity is put on notice.
Conversations about biblical church government have been on the outs among church leaders for at least a century. The pragmatic question “what works?” is the first many church leaders ask. And there is a place for prudence. Not all churches should look the same. But some things are biblical basics. One is that Jesus gives every church member an office in its government: to assume final responsibility for guarding the what and the who of the gospel in the church and its ministry. And this “church work” is integrally connected to proclaiming and living that gospel in the world. A second basic is that Jesus gives leaders to the church for equipping the members to do this church-building and mission-accomplishing work. Their basic instruction is, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
The vision of congregationalism pictured in this book offers an integrated view of the Christian life. A Christian’s “church job” should not be divided from everyday life because the saints are tasked with guarding and growing one another all week. Yet the members need their leaders to do their jobs. They need training, equipping, and instruction. The Bible even talks about obedience. In our day and age, when the only form of government people like is their own, the tasks of reinvigorating congregational authority and elder authority must work together. Congregationalism is biblical, but biblical congregationalism just might look a little different than you expect. It is nothing less than Jesus’ authorization for living out his kingdom rule among a people on mission.
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