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Leader-controlled or Free-for-all

Posted by on Jan 8, 2011 in edification, gathering | 22 comments

Leader-controlled or Free-for-all

Three years ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long already), I wrote a post called “Leader-controlled or Free-for-all.” I wrote this post for one particular reason. Whenever I talk about “participatory meetings” between believers, many people assume that mean a “free-for-all.” In other words, people tend to see the two extremes of leader-controlled or free-for-all. I hope this post explains that I do not think a participatory church meeting is either leader-controlled or a free-for-all.

Also, this post follows along well with my series on edification from last last week.


Leader-controlled or Free-for-all

For the last year and a half or so, I have been encouraging “open participation” during church meetings. However, I think there is a misunderstanding about “open participation”. Open participation is not the same thing as a “free-for-all”.

During the traditional meeting of the church, the only people who speak are the ones who have been scheduled to speak. The only people who choose songs or sing are the ones who have been scheduled to choose songs or sing. For everyone else, participation is limited to singing along and listening.

Usually, if someone has something to say, they have to tell the pastor or other leadership. The leadership will determine whether or not the other people should hear what the person has to say. Even if the person is allowed to speak, the speaking remains “leader-controlled”.

However, in several blog posts, I have suggested that leadership is not a requirement for speaking, nor is leadership alone responsible for speaking during the meeting of the church. In fact, Scripture says absolutely nothing about the relationship between speaking during the meeting of the church and leadership. Specifically, Scripture says nothing about leadership being responsible for filtering what is or is not said during the meeting of the church.

In two posts, “Who is qualified to speak during the meeting?” and “Who is responsible for speaking during the meeting?“, I said that there are only three scriptural qualification for speaking during the meeting of the church:

  1. The person must be indwelled by the Spirit of God, and therefore gifted by the Spirit.
  2. The person must speak from a motivation of love.
  3. The person must speak in order to edify the body of Christ.

Furthermore, I said that all believers are responsible for determining whether or not they should speak during the meeting of the church. However, this determination is not made according to a schedule or plan, but according to the work of the Holy Spirit within the life of the individual and the group.

A meeting that includes biblical “open participation” will not be a “free-for-all” where everyone makes sure that they get a word in. In fact, this type of chaos is the opposite of the Spirit-controlled order that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14. Instead of all believers at the meeting trying to say something, Paul describes a meeting where everyone considers the other person first, to the extent that if one person is speaking, he or she will sit down if another wants to speak. This is not a “free-for-all” but an order directed by the Holy Spirit.

However, a “leader-controlled” meeting is also the opposite of the Spirit-controlled order that Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14. Instead of only certain people being schedule to speak, Paul describes a scenario where the Spirit reveals something to someone during the meeting, and that person immediately stands up to speak. The person speaking yields the right to speak to his brother or sister.

Again, neither extreme – neither a leader-controlled meeting nor a free-for-all meeting – is described by Paul or by any other author of the New Testament. For leaders who refuse to give up their position as the sole speaker to the assembled church, it is the responsibility of mature believers to point out to those leaders that every brother and sister in Christ should be allowed to speak toward the edification of the church. For those who take advantage of open participation in order to always have their say, it is the responsibility of mature believers to help them understand they should consider others instead of themselves.

So, what I have been suggesting on this blog and in person – what I call “open participation” – is neither a meeting that is controlled by those in leadership positions, nor a meeting that is a free-for-all. Instead, I suggest that each meeting should be controlled by the Holy Spirit, and that he should be allowed to choose who will speak and who will not speak. Since he knows who is present, what gifts they have, what has been revealed to them, and what the people need to hear, I think the Holy Spirit is the only person qualified to lead and control a meeting anyway.


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

  1. 1-8-2011

    So what, in your words, is the role of the elder (Elder’s) at the open participation meeting?

    Does 2 Tim 2 have nothing to do with the meeting?

  2. 1-8-2011

    (House church perspective)

    As I see it, in a House church meeting is usually an “open meeting.” That is, in an “organic” House church setting, members are encouraged to each participate and have part in the gathering as the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit may lead.

    However, this does not mean that there are no leaders present. It simply means that even when leaders are present, Jesus will still lead or guide the meeting, as each member is sensitive to the realization that the “open meeting” is under the Headship of Christ, as members participate and function openly as they are lead by His Holy Spirit.

    There needs to be some understanding given in the area of how we are governed (in regard to local administration and government, i.e. leadership) and how we meet, as they are not the same. (1 Cor.12:5,27; Eph. 4:11-13)

  3. 1-8-2011

    Well said Hutch!

  4. 1-8-2011

    Well said.

  5. 1-8-2011

    Also just wanted to add that nobody I know in organic/simple/house church is advocating or ever has advocated leaderless Christianity. The idea that organic church is leaderless Christianity is a canard rolled up by the ignorance of those who misunderstand it or whose positions feel threatened by it.

  6. 1-8-2011

    LOL. The conversation flows better when the comments are posted in order. :)

  7. 1-8-2011


    I would say that 2 Timothy 2:2 is not specifically for elders. Elders have the same role as other believers when the church gathers. If the church truly has recognized mature believers who they trust as elders, then the people will probably consider their words and actions during the meeting, and perhaps yield to their discernment if decisions need to be made.


    Thanks for your perspective. I agree with what you said about “open meetings” under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. I think that government/administration/polity should also fall under the leading of the Holy Spirit with the whole church taking part.


    Charles did post his comment first, but it was placed under moderation. Sorry for the confusion.

    I’ve noticed several people saying that leaders are not needed in the church. But, when you read the details of what they’re saying, they mean the kind of leaders that are seen in most churches today are not necessary. So, I agree with you.


  8. 1-8-2011

    Hutch, thank you for perspective. In principle I agree with you; however from a practical point of view, the church is not always in a meeting or gathering mode.

    In fact, the other 16 or so hours a day the church is dis-assembled and the real work of the daily ministration is going forth.

    It is during these times that leaders (such as are found in 2 Tim. 2:2 and elsewhere)are leading in practical ways, preaching, teaching, praying for the sick in their homes, working, etc, while at the same time other aspects of the helps and governments (plural) are also taking place as in Acts 6 (1 Cor. 12:27, Rom. 12).

    As I mentioned, often we forget that there are leaders in the church and there is a difference between how we meet and how we are governed or led.

  9. 1-8-2011

    Hi Charles-

    I’m fine with not coming to 100% agreement with you regarding the issue. My comment was very brief and probably does not contain enough information for you to know my position on the issue.

    Here is how I understand it:

    Leadership, Authority & Ministry
    Matthew 23:8-11 But you are not to be called rabbi (teacher), for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone (in the church) on earth father, for you have one Father, Who is in heaven. And you must not be called masters (leaders), for you have one Master (Leader), the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

    Romans 15:14 Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all (spiritual) knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct (teach) one another also.

    My Senior Pastor: I/We have a Senior Pastor. That person is the most qualified to lead the church. He is also the most effective in making decisions for the body. He consistently teaches me/us Scripture by the Holy Spirit. He loves the people of the church more than anyone else. He also models perfectly what it means to be a child of God. Finally, He holds me/us to a higher standard than anyone else is capable of doing. His name is Jesus Christ. He is my/our Chief Shepherd and our Overseer.-Stole this from Alan. :)

    Clergy / Laity Distinctions The New Testament teaches leadership among the people of God, but not in a way that leads to the “clergy/laity” conclusion. The root words from which we derive the English words “clergy” and “laity” are found in the New Testament, but our usage of “clergy/laity” is far removed from the New Testament concepts.

    The English word “clergy” is related to the Greek word “cleros”. It means “a lot or inheritance”. For example, in 1 Peter 5:3 the elders are exhorted not to lord it over “the lots” (Greek: ton cleron), which refers to the entire flock of God’s people. Nowhere in the New Testament is any form of “cleros” used to designate a separate class of “ordained” leaders. Instead, it refers to the “inheritance” (Greek: clerou) laid up for all the saints (Col. 1:12; Acts 26:18). The saints as a collective whole are conceived of in the New Testament as God’s “inheritance”. We have utterly perverted and turned upside-down the New Testament teaching by using the term “clergy: to refer to a special elite group of church leaders. All believers are God’s “cleros/clergy” – God’s Inheritance.

    This English word is related to the Greek word “laos”, which means “people”. The Greek word “laikos”, which means “laity”, is not found in the New Testament. All in the body of Christ, whether “saints, bishops, or deacons” (Phil. 1:1), are the “people” (“laos”) of God. “People of God” is a title of honor bestowed upon all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). All believers are God’s “laos/laity”- The People of God.

    It was not until the third century that “clergy” was employed to designate a limited number of persons who functioned in the Christian assemblies. One of the worst outcomes of the “clergy” doctrine was that it communicated the notion that without the “clergy” present there simply was no church. Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and many other church practices, could not happen unless a “clergyman” was present. The truth is whenever the church meets a member of God’s Clergy/Inheritance is always present.

    Because the New Testament knows nothing of “clergy” the fact that a separate caste of the “ordained” permeated our vocabulary and practice illustrates rather forcefully that we do not yet take the New Testament very seriously. The “clergy” practice must be renounced. It strikes at the heart of the priesthood of all believers that Jesus purchased on the cross. It contradicts the shape Jesus’ kingdom was to take when He said, “You are all brethren”. Since it is a tradition of men, it nullifies the Word of God (Mark 7:13). – All believers are full time ordained ministers/servants and full time ordained missionaries.

    Authority & Ministry
    A proper understanding and practice of authority is absolutely vital for the Lord’s testimony
    The basic structure of the church is set forth in the Scriptures and should be studied and restudied closely so as to check the structure being formed. The Spirit does not bring structures that are in opposition to the Word. The Lord greatly detests “forms” without power (2 Tim. 3:5). No one can build a N.T. church by just putting into practice N.T. principles or structure. A New Testament church is built by the Holy Spirit. No amount of proper structure, principles, etc., can build a church if the Spirit is not in complete control. If the Spirit is manifest in an assembly, He will structure the church according to the N.T. guidelines.

    There is room for only ONE true authority in the local church, and that authority is the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Christ Himself is the absolute Head (authority) of every local church. If any other authority besides Christ’s comes into the church, then the church is ruined as long as it gives ground to other “authorities.” This is a basic and vital point (Col. 1:18; Eph.4:5,15).
    Our Head has given us the authoritative Word – the Scriptures – in particular, the N.T. documents. The Scriptures are our sole source of exercised authority. Those who exercise Christ’s authority in the assembly truly do so only as they hold forth the Word of God.

    The Lord Jesus must be Head in a living, practical way (Col. 2:9-10).

    All believers are responsible directly to the Head (Jesus), and also are responsible to one another (Rom.14:4; Rev.l:5-6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Eph.5:21).

    All believers are priests and all are gifted. Therefore all must take their place in the assembly in a living way. All can pray, worship, witness and minister in and to the church according to their gift and experience in the Lord (Rev.l:5-6; Eph.4:7,16; Rom.12:3-8; 1 Cor.12-14)

    There are certain brethren who not only are gifted but also themselves gifts to the church. These have the ministry of the Word (Eph.4:11-12).

    There is no ”office” as such in the local assembly. Most people have the idea that “office” is an official position. Most believe that if a person is “officially” placed in the position of elder, pastor, bishop, etc., then because of that “office” they have “authority.” It is in this sense that there is no such thing as an “office” in the N.T. But there are functions (Rom.12:4; cf. Vine’s N.T. Dictionary). A function is the action, duty or work that a particular person should perform. Example: an elder should oversee.
    We have constructed a lot of notions about “office” that rest on human tradition, and are not found in the N.T. The King James has “office” in Rom. 11:13, 12:4 and 1 Tim.3:l. In Rom. 11:13 the Greek word is diakonia or “service.” In Rom.12:4 the Greek word is praxis, or “action/function.” In 1 Tim. 3:l, “office” is not in the text. The verse simply says, “if any one aspires to oversight’ (episkope).
    Christ ‘s authority is manifested in the assembly through the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit. Since the Spirit is the only true authority of Christ in the church (cf. 2 Cor.3:17-18), then we need to know how He brings forth His authority. One way He does this is through His gifts and ministries.

    “The ministry God appoints is authority …. The fact that someone has the supply constitutes his authority …. Whoever is gifted has a ministry and whoever has a ministry has authority”.

    In one sense the entire body shares in authority (Eph.5:21; 1 Pet. 5:5). This means that we recognize one another’s gifts, knowledge, or experience in the Lord and we submit to the Holy Spirit in each member. Even sisters share in the authority according to their gifts and experience in the Lord.

    Christ’s authority is manifested in the assembly through the more mature brothers (elders). The Holy Spirit (the authority) manifests His authority by speaking to the church through the church. The older (spiritually) a brother is, the more experienced he should be in hearing God’s voice and knowing His voice. An older brother should have more discernment (Heb. 5:14). This is the bottom line of eldership.

    Elders are simply the more mature brethren who function as overseers. Elder, Overseer, (Bishop) and Pastor all refer to the same persons. “Elder” refers to their spiritual maturity, and overseer/pastor refers to their functions. The church should submit to its elders in view of their experience and gifts which make them accountable (Heb.13:17; 1 Pet.5:5). Submission will come into proper focus if they are properly recognized.

    How are elders appointed? By the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). How does the Holy Spirit appoint elders? He does it by manifesting the elders’ maturity, gifts and character. There is no place in the New Testament where churches choose their own elders. Rather than appointing elders, the churches recognized elders. The objective criteria that is used in recognizing elders can be found in 1 Tim.3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

    If elders emerge in a church by political maneuvering, an opportunistic coup, or by being forced upon a people, then nothing can go right. But if people know the men who labor among them, see their manner of life, and then recognize such men – then submission by the people is put into proper perspective.

    There is no such thing as an “office of the pastor” in the local church. In fact, men do not become elders by being placed in the position of overseers/pastors. Rather, men function as overseers because they are elders, gifted as shepherds (pastors). This is a critical point. If we do not see this we have opened the door wide for authority in the church other than Christ’s through the Holy Spirit.

    The N.T. knows nothing of a church with “a” pastor. The N.T. always speaks of oversight in terms of plurality, not singularity. We must give heed to this.

    The idea of a sustained period of time in a local church with one pastor is unknown in the N.T. Most churches in our day have a man in the church they call “the pastor.” But this is a long-standing tradition, not a Biblical teaching. The practice of a one-man elder, pastor or bishop only facilitates the danger of imposing on Christ’s headship.
    Those who refer to the single “angel” of the seven churches in Revelation as a basis for a one-man pastor system are basing an important, vital doctrine on a flimsy analogy (we know that the Ephesian church had a plurality of elders, not one ”angel”/pastor; Acts 20:17). Handling texts in this way only shows the lengths to which men must go to sustain a doctrine which has no N.T. support.

    Christ is the one Man who has authority over all the churches, and He gives pastors to equip the flock to do the work of the ministry.

    It may often be the case that one of the maturing brethren will have more spiritual influence in the assembly. Peter often “spoke” for the twelve, but even he designates himself as a “fellow-elder” (1 Pet.5:l). There is no doctrine in the N.T. of “the pastor,” or “chief elder.” If one brother happens to have more spiritual influence because of his gifts and experience, then let it be so. Plurality does not mean that all elders are to be equal in their spiritual influence. This is absurd and impossible. The one with more spiritual influence should be the servant of all.

    The rule for all church meetings and affairs is the Headship of Christ, the priesthood of all believers, and each member contributing to the body’s edification.

    Pastoral Care, Teaching & Ministry

    The bulk of responsibility for pastoral care, teaching, and ministry in the ekklesia rests squarely upon the shoulders of all the brethren. Put differently, the richness of Paul’s vision of the Body of Christ stems from his continual emphasis that every member is gifted, has ministry, and is a “responsible believer” in the Body (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12: 1 ff.; Eph. 4:7; 1 Pet. 4: 10).

    As a consequence, ministerial responsibility is never to be closeted among a few. This is why the word adelphoi, translated “brethren,” appears 346 times in the NT and 134 times in Paul’s epistles alone. In most places, this word is Paul’s shorthand way of referring to all the believers in the church, both men and women. By contrast, “elders,” “overseers” and “pastors” only appear in Paul’s letters five times, four times, and once respectively.

    The Congregation organizes itself (I Cor. 11:33-34; 14:39-40; 16:2-3) Disciplines fallen members (I Cor. 5:1-13; 1 Corinthians 6:1-6; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; Matthew 18:17-20; Titus 3:9-11; Galatians 6:1-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 5:19-20: Discipline is to be undertaken only after much prayer, longsuffering and consideration. Discipline is to be done with discretion and is to be motivated by and done in love with restoration being the goal, discipline is not retribution. Spiritual Immaturity is not grounds for church discipline.) Warns the unruly (I Thess. 5:14) Comforts the feeble (I Thess. 5:14) Supports the weak (I Thess. 5:21) Abounds in the work of the Lord (I Cor. 15:58) Admonishes one another (Rom. 15:14) Teaches one another (Col. 3:16) Prophesies to one another (I Cor. 14:31) Serves one another (Gal. 5:13) Bears one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) Cares for one another (I Cor. 12:25) Washes one another’s feet (John 13:14) Loves one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12,17; Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 4:9) Is to be devoted to one another (Rom. 12: 10) Shows kindness and compassion to one another (Eph. 4:32) Edifies one another (Rom. 14:19; 1 Thess. 5: 1 lb) Bears with one another (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13) Exhorts one another (Heb. 3:13; 10:25) Incites one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24) Encourages one another (1 Thess. 5: 11 a) Prays for one another (Jas. 5:16) Offers hospitality to one another (1 Pet. 4:9) Fellowships with one another (I John 1:7) Confesses sins to one another (Jas. 5:16)

    With dramatic clarity, all of these “one another” commands incarnate the decisive reality that every member of the believing community is to bear the responsibility of pastoral care in the assembly. Leadership, therefore, is a corporate rather than a solo affair. The idea that elders exclusively direct and rule the affairs of the church, make decisions for the assembly, deal with all of its problems, and supply all of its teaching is alien to Paul’s thinking and bereft of Biblical support. Stated simply, the New Testament knows nothing of an elder-ruled, elder-governed, or elder-directed church. And it knows even less about a pastor-led church.

    The ministry of the whole Body is to overshadow the supervisory/exemplary role of the elders, it would make our churches far more healthy and vibrant. The elders, being the more mature brethren, are merely responsible for modeling pastoral care by nurturing their younger brethren in Christ (Acts 20:28-29; Gal. 6: 1; Heb. 13:17b). And their goal, along with the prophets, teachers, and evangelists, is to empower the saints to take responsibility for the flock along with them (Eph. 4:11-12, 1 Thess. 5:12-13). (Elders can simultaneously be prophets, teachers and evangelists; but not all prophets, evangelists, and teachers are elders.)

    While some believers take the lead more than others due to their peculiar gifting and relative spiritual maturity (i.e., the elders), the emphasis of the NT is upon the responsibility of the entire assembly, Thus, leadership and pastoral responsibility fall upon the shoulders of every member of the church rather than upon the back of one person or a select group. In God’s ecclesiology, brotherhood precedes, exceeds, and overshadows eldership.

    A Functioning Priesthood Just as there was a people of God in the old age, so now under the New Covenant there is an “Israel of God” (Gal.6:16). But this new people is not national, but spiritual in character — “living stones.” That which was typified in geographical Israel has now come to living expression in “a spiritual house, a holy priesthood,” which “offers up spiritual sacrifices”. This house is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ 1 Pet. 2:5, 9(v.4; cf. 1 Cor.3:11).

    Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant priesthood, and is building a church in which every “living stone” is a “priest.” There were many requirements for the Old Covenant priesthood, and as a result only a relatively few men functioned in it. But the New Covenant priesthood includes all saints.

    More importantly, however, is the fact that the Old Covenant priests had certain functions to constantly perform. Peter focuses on this point: New Covenant priests function by offering up “spiritual sacrifices”. A non-functioning priesthood is an absurdity! What is included in “spiritual sacrifices” can be seen clearly in such passages as Rom.12:l, Heb.13:15-16 and Rev.5:8.
    In Rom.12:l-8, it is important to see how Paul naturally links our priesthood with our functioning in the local church: “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us”. Not “all members have the same office”, but all members are to-function in the body. It should also be clear that the functions Paul has in view involve (though not exclusively) the meetings where the church comes together.

    A functioning priesthood is essential and basic to the people of God. Any church traditions and practices which in their practical outworking squelch the functioning of believers as priests must be rejected. We must realize that people, not buildings, constitute the “house of God” (cf. 1 Cor.3:9). The old covenant emphasis on places has passed away because the fulfillment of these types has come in a spiritual people (John 4:20-24). In light of our priesthood, we cannot give credence to the historical “clergy/laity” distinction.

    A basic aspect of our priesthood in Christ is to be in a submissive frame of heart with reference to the other brethren. That is to say, wrapped up in our priesthood is a spiritual commitment to others. Before Paul moves on to specific forms of submission (Ephesians 5:22; 6:1; 6:5), and specific headship responsibilities (Ephesians 5:25; 6:4; 6:9), he first sets forth the absolute necessity of mutual submission to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21). Our Christian priesthood, then, means at least two things: (1) that we make a commitment of love to minister to our brother’s spiritual welfare; and (2) that we submit ourselves to the ministry of our fellow brethren for our own edification. Biblical submission, in light of our priesthood, is two-way, not one-way.

    A functioning priesthood necessitates a proper perspective on gifts of ministry within the local church — a perspective which many Corinthian believers had forgotten. All believers possess the Spirit of Christ. This common Spirit works in all believers. The goal of spiritual gifts is mutual edification. The church is a body, whose members all have a vital function. Ministry in the church does not focus in one member, but many. The many members, because of their personal union with Christ, have a living relationship with one another. The body cannot function without its parts, and the functioning (priesthood) of the parts is necessary for the unity of the body. The body brought into existence by Christ’s work does absolute justice to both the worth of each individual part, and to the corporate body as a whole. That is to say, neither is the individual swallowed up in the body, nor is the body sacrificed for the sake of the individual parts. Just as in a human body, it functions as a unified whole, but is dependent upon the proper functioning of all the parts. All of this takes on special meaning when the general priesthood of believers is supposed. The body is not meant to depend upon the function of one member, while the other members are passively receptive. On that basis the body will be crippled, and perhaps die. 1 Cor. 12:4-26 (cf Rom. 12:3-8)

    The function of the pastors/elders and teachers is to equip the saints so that they can minister. Edification is not conceived of as being achieved by the ministry of one part (the “pastor”), but by a mutual ministry of every part. All believers are ‘ministers’ (believer-priests) who have been gifted by God so that they may lovingly build up their spiritual brothers and sisters…. each Christian has received a spiritual gift… A gift is a special ability given graciously by God to each person in Christ’s Body to help others toward spiritual maturity. In light of this, the service of elders and deacons must be viewed against the backdrop of the general priesthood of believers. They serve as an important part in the edification of the body; they do not constitute the only sources of edification in the body. Ephesians 4:11-16.

    The Service of the Priesthood

    Building up One Another

    Teaching, Edification, Worship through the Lords Supper, Singing & Prayer
    Paul is dealing with the entire church as gathered: “the whole church come together in one place” (1 Corinthians 14:23: cf. 1Cor.11:18). Secondly, there is nothing said about the ministry of one man. Thirdly, there is much stated about the ministry of many: “that you may prophesy”; “when you come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has an interpretation”; “you all may prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted”.
    The Greek word for “each one” is hekastos. It is used in the N.T. to show the individuality of judgment: “everyone shall give account of himself to God”. That is, the “ministry” is not given to one man, but to “each of you.” This does not mean, of course, that at every service each person must participate. But it does at least mean that the service at some point was open to those who had something from the Lord to contribute.
    We must keep in mind that this “each one” principle was taking place in the assembling together of the church: “when you come together [as a church,], every one of you… “. 1 Cor.14, 1 Thess 5:11.

    Obviously, the teaching of the elders is to give backbone and guidance to the flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim.3:2). But it is clear that speaking words of edification in the local church is not limited to one “minister.”

    The essential activities of the church when gathered are (1) teaching, (2) edification through mutual ministries and (3) worship through the Lord’s Supper, singing and prayer…. The meetings of the church should be characterized by the participation of many who are being prompted by the Holy Spirit.

    Admonition The elders of a church are required to watch over the flock, and admonish when necessary (1 Thess 5:12). But the duty of admonishing extends to all the priests. Rom. 15:14.

    Comfort One Another The mutual ministry of Christians is to comfort one another. The hope all Christians possess is a doctrine by which they may “comfort one another” -1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11-14

    Exhortation Believers are to exhort each other in view of perseverance: “exhort one another daily…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin…. not forsaking the assembling [as a church; Greek: episunagogen]… but exhorting [one another].” In the process of the saint’s perseverance, then, a mutual responsibility stands as the primary revealed method of abiding in Christ and His house. Heb.3:6-14, 10:24-29

  10. 1-8-2011


    I appreciate your response, when I get the time I will read through it.

    But at first glance…

    If some of what you wrote is true, then the Jerusalem conference in Acts 15 was out of order and Paul and Barnabus had no spiritual authority to deliver decrees to the churches ordained (appointed) by the hand of the Apostles and Elders from Jerusalem .

    “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the [decrees] for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily (Acts 16:4-5).”

    That being said, I do not believe in a professional clergy or clergy/laity division.

    Every believer is a saint, every saint is a servant, and every servant is minister.

    In the Body, there are simply those who equip others for ministry, and there are those who are being equipped by others for ministry. All believers are ministers (servants). (Eph. 4:11-13).

    I do however clearly see organic authority and God appointed leadership in the New Testament.

    Blessings, Charles

    PS. There is a video on my website that introduces this subject… (need to get the whole teaching there)

  11. 1-8-2011


    That’s an interesting comment. Nothing I wrote invalidates Acts 15.

    Just posted how I understand the issue so that you at least know what we are disagreeing over, I’m content for us to disagree.

    God bless you brother, have a great weekend.

  12. 1-8-2011

    There is an aspect of the house church movement that feels that churches should be planted by apostles who leave without appointing leadership. Then in six months or a year or longer natural leaders will be brought forth by the Holy Spirit and then the apostles and church recognizes them. They feel that this time of meeting without local leadership is a necessary part of the church experience and is backed up scripturally by Paul’s methods.

    Are you all aware of this and what are you thoughts on this idea?

    Hi Charles-It was good seeing you on this site. We’ll have to get together again. Rod

  13. 1-8-2011

    (third time (trying to post) is a charm)…


    I believe, with exception of a minor point or two, you and I are very much in agreement: For instance:

    I believe the Ephesian church was not one local assembly with plural Elders, who were summoned by Paul, but many local assemblies of believers who were spread out over the entire [city] of Ephesus who met in homes primarily, but other places as well (Tit. 1:5; Acts 14:23).

    These local assemblies were separate autonomous churches who may have either been [led] by an [appointed] Elder or Elders plural.

    In any case, these Elders had the appointed [oversight] of an local assembly and [collectively] they represented the [presbytery] ( 1 Pet. 5:2; 1 Tim. 4:14 ).

    So, when Paul called the [Elders] of the church who had the [oversight] of the flock of God among them, he was speaking of the context of the [entire] city-wide church led by Elders who were [overseers] within their sphere of organic leadership (Acts 20:20-28; 2 Tim. 2:2). Note the follwing:

    “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the [elders] (presbyteros) (or presbytery) of the church” (Acts 20:17) emphasis mine.

    “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you [overseers], (episcopos) (or bishops) to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 28-29)emphasis mine.

    I would agree that all of these 5-fold ministry terms have to do with function or sphere of ministry rather than an static office or title.

    Hutch, your comments were well written and well laid out. I shall hold on to them for further study.



  14. 1-8-2011

    Hello Rod!

    Great running in to you here…

    I hope you are recovering from your move…


  15. 1-8-2011


    Thanks for your input about appointing leaders…

    I guess I do have an opinion about this after all. First, I can see express evidence in the scriptures that men who had a recognized and evident gifting of five-fold ministry (elders) were [appointed] (and sometimes re-appointed) by others who are referred to as “presbytery” (elders).

    This appointment was accompanied with ministry to the Lord, prayer, fasting, and the laying on of hands. In this manner men were [separated] to the work of God’s calling in their lives. (Acts 13:2-3; 1 Tim. 4:14, Tit. 1:5).

    “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:2-3)

    However, it is not always clear that their appointment was always made after a return visit of an apostle. For instance, Titus a companion and protege of Paul was instructed:

    “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and [ordain] elders in every city, as I had [appointed] thee: (Tit. 1:5)

    Timothy was instructed by Paul: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” ( 2 Tim. 2:2)

    Having that, I do believe that it is wise to wait until the Holy Spirit says whom He wants separated and to what work of ministry He has called them. This may or may not be within a certain frame of time.

    In 2 Tim 2:2 it seems to imply that there are 4 generations of ministry affected and influenced by Paul’s Apostolic authority and sphere of ministry: That being Paul, Timothy, faithful men, and others.

    This sphere of Paul’s ministry was given to him by Christ and confirmed with the laying on of hands, first by Ananias (Acts 9: 10-19) and later by others ( Acts 13:2-3).

    Paul’s instructions to those within his apostolic measure and sphere of ministry impacted not only these four generations, but continues today through His writings and teaching.

    (After all, we are all only operating as an organic extension of the ministry and authority of Christ.)

    As I understand it Timothy and Titus (to who these things were directed) were not apostles, but local pastors who also had an apostolic calling, measure, and sphere of ministry as well (2 cor. 10:15-17).

    Church planting then is not only the work of an apostle as such. Any believer can be used by the Lord to plant a church, but it will take the gifts of five-fold ministry to properly equip the church and bring her into maturity (Eph. 4:11-13).

    Just my thoughts,


  16. 1-8-2011


    You all had a great conversation while I was away. Thanks!


  17. 1-9-2011


    Thanks for the kind words as well as for what you have shared.

  18. 1-9-2011


    I am still reviewing and digesting your post. Man…there is some good stuff there. If you don’t mind, I think I would like it share it with our House church meeting soon.



  19. 1-9-2011

    I am probably a bit off-track here, so far as the conversation has been going, but in reading this post and your recent ones, a question just occurred to me that I don’t think I’ve seen talked about before.

    It seems to me that a lot of people, in arguing for the traditional leader-led type church gathering, appeal to the apparent Old Testament temple worship model to some degree. For example, church worship teams are given credibility based on the temple worship Levite leaders.

    But it just occurred to me that in the actual examples of temple worship we see in the New Testament (and even in the Old Testament, for example, Hannah), especially in the gospels, we see an awful lot of non-people-led activity… the “sinner” praying alone in the corner while the “righteous” man was praying loudly for all to notice; the stories of Anna and Simeon and their activities in the temple (both in relation to the baby Jesus, and their long-term temple worship activities); the woman putting her “mites” in the offering box; Jesus teaching (and discussing, answering questions etc)… interestingly, the activities that Jesus and/or the gospel writers point out as being truly righteous, we have to assume were being God-led and God-centered, rather than “led” by the priestly/levitical leader caste.

    Just saying…

  20. 1-10-2011

    Norma, you have introduced a new dynamic here. I would agree with you that what occurred in the daily first century temple and synagogue activity resembles nothing like what we see today.

    With the exception of the regularly scheduled sacrifices, offerings, feasts, dedications, readings, etc., it appears there was some freedom to interact without someone being “in charge” while doing so.

    However, it appears in Acts, Christians had their own unique style of meeting, separate from the synagogue and temple presence which was completely devoid of a temple and synagogue like structure.

    It is as if they had an understanding that what they were doing had nothing to do with the rituals and services of the temple and what they were used to.

    They did however have questions about the Law, circumcision, etc, that they struggled with in the beginning. However, there meeting style was very open and participatory.



  21. 1-10-2011


    I cannot take credit for any of it, it is a compilation of things I have learned from private study and insights from others such as brothers Jon Zens and Alan Knox.

    I’m not into titles or positions, I’m into function, a leader in God’s Kingdom looks dramatically different from those in the world’s system, they are sacrificial servants whose example is worthy of following and their authority is only comprised of and contained within their godly sacrificial example.

  22. 1-10-2011


    I agree with Charles: You’ve made a very important observation!