Whether we like to admit it or not, any local church must have some sort of government in order to function decently. Bible-believing Baptists have generally practiced a “congregational” form of church government, and this type of system might be humorously referred to by the familiar parliamentary procedure phrase, “All in favor, say aye.”
This was the title of Tuesday morning’s workshop on the subject. Pastor Stan Lightfoot of Rustic Hills Baptist, Colorado Springs, began by reviewing the definition of congregational government, as well as other popular forms of church models: papal, episcopal, presbyterian (elder rule), state church, and minimalist. Lightfoot also shared quotes from several historical writers who have acknowledged that the congregational form of church government was the practice in the early Christian churches.
Some time was devoted to key Scripture passages that support congregational rule, followed by discussion of potential problems that churches face in this type of system, such as the scenario where a church takes a vote on an issue, and the issue wins or loses by just one vote. Another item the group discussed was just how much power a pastor should exercise and yet preserve the congregational rule.
A number of attendees in the workshop raised quality questions, and some cited examples in their own lives concerning strengths as well as challenges that present itself with congregationalism. It was a good, and hopefully helpful, interaction.