Basically there are three major types of church government. (There is a fourth, but it is NONgovernment.)
The first kind is rule by a class called “clergy” who are professional church leaders educated and set in a hierarchy that rules from the top down.
The “laity” or common congregants have no say in church operations or decisions. The second emphasizes the importance of spiritually mature men called “elders” who have sole authority to run the church. The third and most popular type of church government is “congregational” in which local congregations govern their own affairs.
Typically, in a congregational form of polity the membership does the following: (1) select, appoint, and, if necessary, remove church leaders; (2) guard pure doctrine; (3) exercise church discipline and decide on church membership; (4) participate in major decisions affecting the entire congregation (Dever, Display of God’s Glory, 31–43).
Usually, the congregation operates in a democratic fashion--each member has an equal voice and vote, or by consensus—general agreement or concord. They appoint an elder or elders who, having the spiritual health of the church at heart, make recommendations to the church for their approval.
Formal membership and commitment to a covenant is important and essential to a congregational method of church government. Paul says this is how churches grow. He wrote the Ephesians to tell them when every part is “joined and knit together” effectively doing their share the body increases. That is why every Christian, to live out their faith, must join a local assembly of believers striving together to accomplish the desires of Jesus Christ, the Head of his Body.
Thinking it over . . .
Why does God “gift” or equip the saints who are ministering in and to his Body, the church?
What are the characteristics of a spiritually mature church membership as described in Ephesians 4:11-16?
According to Paul, what causes the Body to grow?(see vs. 15-16)
What does Paul mean when he says “joined and knit together”? How would you describe your relationship to your church?
Why does a follower of Jesus need to join a church to be an effective disciple?
How would you respond to another Christian who says, “I don't need to join a church to serve God?”
Are you a member of a local church? How did you join? What does that mean to you?