Monday, June 01, 2009

Sermon of the Week: Malcolm Watts on Biblical Church Government

This message is one Malcolm Watts gave at a Conference in 1998 on church government. I cannot say I am in total agreement on all points, but I think he makes a strong case for a vision of church government that incorporates the role of the congregation, the role of the pastor (teaching elder or minister) and that of other elders (ruling elders) who are not ordained gospel ministers. He also offers a critique of the relatively contemporary notion of parity among elders.

Near the end (c. the 53 minute mark) he makes seven points about Biblical church government:

1. Christ has not made church power common to all.

2. It is the responsibility of elders to rule.

3. Each church should possess a plurality of elders.

4. There is one office of elder but two kinds of elders: teaching elders or ministers who labor in Word and doctrine; and ruling elders who labor in ruling or governing work.

5. Such offices will be recognized by the church, as they are chosen by the people.

6. Special responsibility rests with the teaching elder to labor in word and sacrament.

7. This government is for all time.


1 comment:

John Bowman said...

Parity is different than specialization or spiritual gifts. If done correctly, the congregation will approve a group of God-fearing men each with his own unique qualities and skills. This is especially true for the teaching pastor or elder whom clearly should bring a very senior voice and experienced perspective to church theology and issues of interpreting the Word. However, a "hierarchy" of elders is dangerous. No single elder's vote or rule should trump the other elders or the system breaks down. Godly governance must be a plurality of well intentioned yet sinful men holding each other accountable and governing as a unit