the weblog of Alan Knox

Stayed Tuned for More on Church Polity

Posted by on Oct 14, 2010 in elders, office | 3 comments

Stayed Tuned for More on Church Polity

So far in my series on church polity, I have described the three major forms of church government: episcopal, presbyterian, and congregational. The major differences in the three forms of polity concern who has final authority and decision-making responsibility for a church:

episcopal: one person

presbyterian: a group of people

congregational: all members of a local church

Next week, I will continue this series, adding some comments of my own.

But, for now, I have a question for you, my dear readers. If you had to choose one of the three (and you had no other choices), which of the three would you choose, and why? No cheating by offering other options.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-14-2010

    Thanks for the informative series.

    If I had to pick one, I’d go with congregational. The other two have more layers of human hierarchy. I’m a believer of the priesthood of all believers. I don’t see the need for anybody positioning themselves between me and God. I do need others brothers to teach, admonish, guide, etc… but key is the word brothers (or sisters).

    However, from my viewpoint, I think there is still room for ‘lording over’ others in this system, and leading as if there is a hierarchy.

    Maybe I don’t have to pick one… :)

  2. 10-14-2010

    I’m going with congregational as well, for many of the same reasons that Jon listed. I believe in mutual accountability, wherein the relationships are not power relationships, but based on equal standing before God (even though the functions and gifts may differ).

    I have observed that more hierarchical organizations tend toward abuse of power/position just by default since ultimately, those at the top are not accountable to those at the bottom.

    That said, the congregational model isn’t a fireproof formula for healthy community. It would probably depend on the maturity of the members, and the dynamics of the group as a whole.

  3. 10-16-2010

    Jon and Sarah,

    Thanks for answering my questions.