Who has authority in your church? What is the extent of that authority? How is leadership selected? Who are the leaders accountable to, if anyone? What do the leaders believe? What happens if they change their beliefs significantly? How are charges against leadership handled? Who vindicates or removes leaders? These are church government questions, and the way your church answers these affects its ability to protect and promote the gospel and its members.
In the video linked above, the speaker, the son of a Sovereign Grace pastor and teacher at their pastor training school, recounts the serious difficulties Sovereign Grace churches faced because of their faulty church structure (they’ve recognized this and are correcting. I’m not trying to criticize). This story is used as a springboard to discuss the importance of a well thought out church government, what he feels the best form of government is and why, and what Sovereign Grace is doing to improve.
I encourage you to watch this video. Even though this talk was given at a Presbyterian seminary, it is pitched to Baptist and Charismatic Christians. Sasser is intensely practical – in the end, he wants churches to be run well for the sake of the gospel. Given the setting, he uses several words that might not be familiar to some, which are defined below:
polity – governance of the church
adjudicate – make a formal judgment or decision about a problem or disputed matter
ecclesiology – study of church structure
presbyterianism – church is governed by representative assemblies of elders
congregationalism – each congregation is independent
parachurch – organizations that work outside the church on ministries like social welfare, education, and evangelism
confessionalism – uses extended belief statements as one measure of pastoral faithfulness
I hope this post inspires you to think deeply about how the church should be governed.