We Believe: “What We Believe About Church Polity”
Matthew 18:15-17; Acts 6:1-5
This morning we will continue to examine matters that form our Ecclesiology. We will take time to consider church polity and why it matters.
- Clarify the terms:
o Ecclesiology: is the study of the _______________.
o Polity: can generally be defined as “the organization or governmental structure of a local church or fellowship of churches,” Millard Erickson
The Bible describes two offices in the Church. The office of elder and deacon.
Bishop = “Episkopos” Here we notice the connection to the word “Episcopalian.”
Elder(s) = “Presbuteros” From this word we get the word presbytery
Pastor = “Poimen” The terms pastor and shepherd are synonymous.
Forms of Polity: There are four basic positions:
- - _______________________ (Anglicans, Methodists, Roman Catholics, etc.) give a bishop authority over several churches.
- - _______________________ give authority to gatherings of elders over
- several churches.
- - ___________________ advocates say final authority belongs to the elders of an independent church.
- - _______________________ say the Bible gives this final authority to the gathered congregation as led by the pastors or elders.
- Where is Polity in the Bible? Church polity is seen in each of these areas:
- - The church is the Lord’s (Matt 16:18; 28:18)
- - Settling disputes between Christians (Matt 18:15–17; Acts 6:1–5)
- - Establishing correct doctrine (Gal 1:8; 2 Tim 4:3)
- - Admitting and excluding members (2 Cor 2:6–8;1 Cor 5:1–13)
- Why does Polity matter?
- - First and foremost, God wrote about it in His Word, and therefore He
- is glorified as we follow His instructions.
- - A sound biblical structure will make a church more likely to sustain its witness over many decades. We desire to last for the glory of God as
- gospel witness.
- - Understanding how our church is governed will help us to be more faithful church members. The more we know about how our church works, the more deliberate we can be about promoting unity within our local fellowship!
- What form of Polity do we hold to as a Church? We believe that what the Bible teaches most clearly in terms of polity is __________________________________________________________.
In a congregational system, the gathered assembly is only the final court of appeal in matters of discipline (1 Cor 5:1-13), doctrine (Gal 1:6-9; 2 Tim 4:3), personal dispute (Matt 18), and church membership (2 Cor 2:6).