Early Church Government

Q. You seem to have a bias toward “home churches”, but here in upstate NY that is probably the shortest distance between doctrinal soundness and HERESY!

My questions:
Local churches (in the Scriptures) appear to be autonomous. What kind of church governments are found in the Bible?
How far does pastoral authority extend into the lives of the congregation?
How can pastors and people be accountable to each other?
Tithing appears to be a guideline for N.T. giving. How much responsibility is on the church as far as their (church government) accountability to the congregation?

A. Having grown up there and lived in lots of other places since, I didn’t find heresy more likely to be a problem in upstate New York than anywhere else. I also think that plenty of false teaching has come out of “organized “religion, so that’s no guarantee either.

1 Timothy 3 contain Paul’s clearest teaching on local church government, with elders and deacons involved in oversight. The Greek word for Pastor means shepherd, so think of their involvement in the way a shepherd is involved in the life of his flock. The pastor’s authority was not derived from his education or his position, since there were no paid professionals, but out of mutual trust and respect. As for accountability, all were accountable to God.

Overseers were chosen for their demonstrated reliance upon God, not for their business acumen or the size of their contributions. There was no “us and them” mentality then as there is today between clergy and laity in organized religion. Instead there was an interdependency in the group that made each one a valued member. From the Biblical accounts, it’s clear they had their problems, but seemed to govern themselves at least as well as modern congregations do.

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