September 19, 2017

Church Organization

The denominational world presents a complexity in church organization. Generally, the local churches are
but units in a super-organization. In some denominations, the local church cannot even select its own preacher.
It has to be subservient to the "conference," "bishop" or "superintendent." When one studies those "things that
are written," he soon learns that there is no Bible authority for such organizations. In Christ's church every
congregation is independent of all others, subject only to the authority of Christ.

Every church of Christ is a self-governing body, free to carry on its own affairs and work under Christ and
the apostles. This power of self-government is carried out through elders (who are also called "bishops" and
"pastors") in every church. Note that it is not a plurality of churches under one bishop, but rather, a plurality
of bishops in every church! The only organization the New Testament authorizes through which to do church
work is the local congregation, under its elders, and with deacons as special helpers (Phil. 1:1).

The scope of the elders' authority is clearly indicated in I Pet. 5:2, "Tend the flock of God which is among
you. exercising the oversight." The oversight of the elders begins and ends with the local congregation:" the
flock ... which is among you." In no way and under no circumstances may their authority extend beyond the
confines of the local church. This divine limitation upon the elders' power forever separates the churches and
prohibits, any effort to tie them together under some super-organization with its accompanying influences and
evils. It must be remembered that it was the violation of this principle which led to the great apostasy and the
formation of the Roman hierarchy. (Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Thess. 2:3-12). To ignore this truth is to substitute
human wisdom for the "things which are written."

Truth Magazine I:10, p. 23
July 1957