A. There is a very critical and crucial item that needs to be discussed and understood as we begin to look for qualified deacons and elders among us, and that is “How is the church to be governed?”

1. What role do the elders, deacons, and other leaders in the
church play with regard to church government?

2. What are their responsibilities? What are their limitations?

B. The denominations of our world today are ruled by
their ecclesiastical forms of government.

1. They have ignored the head of the church and have
assumed the right of self-government.

2. They confess with the mouth that Christ has “all
authority” but their heart is far from it and is set on a
denominational form of government.

3. Therefore, we hear much of synods, presbyteries,
councils, general assemblies and conferences.

4. In these delegations men legislate rules and laws to govern
their various denominations.

C. Of course this power to legislate was never given to any
group of uninspired men.

1. Man does not have the right to change God’s law
concerning salvation, worship, homosexuality, etc.

2. Any who would do such is in rebellion against God

3. Christ’s will is law and rebellion against it is treason!



1. To answer this question we must first realize what our
authority is and is not in religion

2. The religion of our parents is not our authority in
governing the church

a. In Galatians 1:14, Paul said he was zealous in the Jewish
traditions – but he later realized that was not his authority

b. 1 Peter 1:18 – we are not governed by the way that dad
and mom did it

c. Acts 7:51 –  many blindly follow their parents in
religious error … Thus, Jesus said – Matthew 10:37

3. Man’s conscience is not to be our authority in
governing the church

a. Proverbs 14:12

b. Acts 23:1 –  Paul was sincere, but he was sincerely
wrong before he became a Christian –  Acts 26:9-11

4. The decision of the majority is not to be our authority
in governing the church

a. Exodus 23:2

b. Matthew 7:13-14 –  the majority are going the wrong

c. Acts 4:18-20

5. The word of God is to be our authority in governing
the church

a. 2 Peter 1:21 –  the scriptures came from God – not man

b. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

c. John 12:48

6. This is a must for the leaders in the church to comprehend


1. Christ is the supreme head of the church

a. Colossians 1:18

b. Ephesians 1:22-23

c. At the transfiguration, the Father said –  Matthew 17:5

d. Jesus said –  Matthew 28:18

2. Jesus, then, promised to send the apostles the Holy
Spirit, who was to teach them all things, and bring all
that Jesus had taught them to their remembrance

a. John 14:26

b. John 15:26-27

c. Matthew 16:19

3. Thus, the authority to govern the church lay at the feet of
Jesus and His apostles, and Jesus never delegated this
authority to any than the apostles.

4. The leaders in the church today need to understand and
abide by this truth


1. In speaking of the autonomy of the church we mean
the autonomy of the local church or congregation.

a. Autonomy is defined as “right of self-government; a
self-governing state; and independent body.”

1) In the first century each congregation was such.

2) Each was independent of one another

3) No local congregation had authority over another

b. Each congregation was free and independent, under the
teaching of Jesus and the apostles, to govern itself, carry
on its own work, and manage its own affairs.

c. All congregations had the same head, foundation, and
mission; each preached the same gospel, and constituted
one body.

d. BUT each was independent to direct its own work.

2. There is great wisdom seen in this arrangement for the
Lord’s churches.

a. If one church becomes corrupted in doctrine or affected
by evil practices, other churches would not be so

b. If a window is made up of one large pane – a break
injures the entire pane.

1) But if a window is made up of several panes, it is not
so bad to break one.

2) And so it is that the independence of the churches are
a protection for each one.

3. This simple, organization, however, failed to satisfy

a. Hence, they made changes whereby their unchristian
aspirations for ecclesiastical lordship could be realized.

b. History records the first great departure from the truth
came in the system of church government

4. Leaders of a congregation must realize that they have no
jurisdiction in any other congregation – this is for the
protection of each congregation


1. The Bible teaches that there are to elders in every
congregation –  Titus 1:5

2. These men are also know as bishops, shepherds, pastors
and overseers

3. The duties of the elders are not to make laws, but to see
that God’s law is carried out

a. The are overseers

b. They are shepherds

4. It is the duty of the elders to:

a. Take heed unto themselves and the church, and to feed
the church (Acts 20:28)

b. Help the weak (Acts 20:35)

c. Exhort in sound doctrine and to convict those who are
not sound in doctrine (Tit. 1:9)

d. Encourage the faint hearted… longsuffering (1 Th. 5:14)

e. Exercise the oversight without out lording over the flock
(1 Pt. 5:2)

f. Be examples to the flock (1 Pt. 5:3)

g. Visit the sick (Jam. 5:14)

h. Watch in behalf of the souls … (Heb. 13:17).


1. The deacons play a part in governing the church in that
they are the elders right hand men.

2. Deacons are servants, they are not mini elders, and they do
not have the authority of the elders

a. Any authority they might have has been delegated to
them by the elders, of course, in keeping with Scripture

b. Deacons are to help the elders, give counsel at times,
and be an encourager


The bottom line concerning the governing of the church is to understand that God’s law is the controlling factor of the leadership of the church – ABIDE BY GOD’S LAW!!!


About from the Preachers PC

Gospel Preacher for the Park Heights church of Christ in Hamilton, TX. I stand for and defend the truth of God's word. All other degrees and diplomas mean very little in comparison.
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