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Theology IV Professor Christopher Ullman. Church Government Part Two. Authors. Peter Toon L. Roy Taylor Paige Patterson Samuel E. Waldron. Episcopalian: Overseen by a Bishop. Local congregations are governed by a hierarchy

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Theology iv professor christopher ullman

Theology IVProfessor Christopher Ullman

Church Government

Part Two


  • Peter Toon

  • L. Roy Taylor

  • Paige Patterson

  • Samuel E. Waldron

Episcopalian overseen by a bishop
Episcopalian: Overseen by a Bishop

  • Local congregations are governed by a hierarchy

  • The office of bishop is distinct from and superior to the officers of local churches

  • The territory and churches over which the bishop rules is a diocese

  • Examples: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Episcopalian, United Methodist and some Lutheran groups

Presbyterian overseen by presbytery and general assembly
Presbyterian: Overseen by Presbytery and General Assembly

  • Congregations are ruled by teaching elders and ruling elders forming a session

  • Members of sessions are also members of the presbytery which oversees the local congregations

  • Some members of the presbytery are also members of a general assembly which governs the entire denomination

  • Examples: PCUSA, Presbyterian Church in America, Christian Reformed Church, AG

Congregational no hq but heaven
Congregational: “No HQ but Heaven”

  • No ruling body outside the local congregation: local church is autonomous (independency)

  • Grudem recognizes five different forms of congregational government

  • Two forms are prominent: single-elder and plural-elder

Single elder congregational
Single-Elder Congregational

  • Pastor is the only elder in the congregation

  • An elected or selected board of deacons serve under him, assist him, and in some cases supervise him

  • Pastor serves as CEO in implementing the decisions of the deacon board on a day-to-day basis

  • Examples: Baptist, Congregational

Plural elder congregational
Plural-Elder Congregational

  • Like presbyterian, the local congregation is to be governed by more than one elder or pastor

  • Elders have no authority over any other congregation than their own

  • No distinction is made between teaching elders and ruling elders

  • All elders are considered equal in authority: no “senior,” “head,” or “lead” pastor. All are to be in mutual submission to one another

  • An elected or selected board of deacons may serve under the group of elders

  • Example: Evangelical Free Churches

Corporate board congregational
Corporate-Board Congregational

Corporate board congregational1
Corporate-Board Congregational

  • Patterned after the example of a modern corporation the “you-work-for-us” structure

  • Church Board hires a pastor who then has authority to operate the church on a day-to-day basis

  • Board guidance and interference can be next-to-nothing to invasive

  • The Board retains the right to terminate the pastor

  • Examples: All Nations Church, Philadelphia Church

Pure democracy congregational
Pure Democracy Congregational

Pure democracy congregational1
Pure Democracy Congregational

  • Every issue must come to the congregational meeting.

  • Every issue may be decided by voting by the entire congregation, or by the voting membership.

  • Decisions are often argued endlessly.

  • As the church grows, decision-making may reach a point of paralysis.

  • Examples: house churches, independent churches

Pneumanarchy congregational

Pneumanarchy congregational1
Pneumanarchy Congregational

  • The congregation denies that any form of government is needed.

  • All the members of the congregation are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their own lives.

  • Decisions are made by consensus.

  • In a short time, this approach gives way to a more structured form of government.

  • Examples: house churches, new start-ups