Like everyone else who have responded to this site, I give you a big “Thank You” for your faithfulness!
I was reading the question having to do with Church and the Church. My thought process went to church authority held by the elders and pastor of the local church. I reason that they don’t have final authority, fore that leads to cultism – blindly following the leader of your group. However, the Scripture does speak to submission. How far does that go in the local church? And, how does the discernment of the individual Believer come into play when that discernment is contrary to church leadership?
Most congregations have a board of Elders or Trustees who oversee operations and to whom the pastor reports. This board is often elected by the congregation. In some denominations, there are regional, state, and national hierarchies as well. Many Boards operate on the basis of majority rule, but some require unanimous consent before taking action and generally submit issues to prayer before deciding.
In most cases, members of the local congregation are under the authority of the Pastor(s) with the right to appeal to the Board in case of a serious disagreement. (Romans 13:1) In those cases, the process outlined in Matt. 18:15-20 is a good one to follow, first trying to settle disagreements one-on-one, then involving one or two others to keep things objective, and finally going before the board. Failure to reach an agreement at that level can lead to disassociation with a particular body or even denomination and sometimes happens when strongly held views become irreconcilable. Prayerful consideration of Romans 12:3 & 16-21 is an important part of this process.