On the Interplay Between Congregational(ism) & Elder-Rule

The Issue:

The Bible teaches that elders are the governing office of the church. They are tasked with leading, managing, and overseeing. However, in the New Testament we find that the congregation is incredibly involved in the church’s affairs, and may, according to some, be seen as serving a governing role.

The question then is how these two things relate to each other. In many churches it is assumed that the elders lead, yet the congregation also exercises some expression of involvement or governance. So who leads (or governs), the elders or the congregation? And if both, how so? How do those two relate?

The below outline seeks to present various models of how this question is answered. It also seeks to present the various Biblical and theological content that potentially impinge upon this issue.

Assumption:

The Bible speaks to our ecclesiology. Polity is not a matter of Biblical indifference or a subject where the Bible leaves us open to organize ourselves as we like (contra. other traditions). We believe the sufficiency of scripture extends to the fact that the Bible guides us on how we as a church are to be governed.

This is why we look to scripture on these matters. We look to them for instruction here. Its voice is what determines our polity. Continue reading