Monday, August 15, 2011

Church Government - Part 2 The Single-Elder-Led Church

The Single-Elder-Led Church

Akin spends thirty-eight of his forty-nine pages describing congregationalism before arriving at a place where he begins to discuss the single-elder-led church, or as he puts it, a senior pastor who is first among equals among other elders.[1] Akin rightly reminds his readers that Scripture is silent in terms of how many elders a local congregation should have.[2] Akin describes a governance model in which the senior elder (pastor) may appoint others to assist with the ministry but those people serve with and under the senior leader, are required to meet definite spiritual qualifications, and the senior leader continues to be the primary teacher of the congregation.[3] This is similar to the way in which Moses was admonished by his father-in-law Jethro to select men to help him in Exodus 18. Moses later followed this guidance again in Numbers 11.

There is ample New Testament evidence to support a senior leader in the local church. First and foremost we see that Jesus called the Disciples to learn from Him but also to under and with Him. This model is also demonstrated with James, the half-brother of Jesus, in the Jerusalem church where he serves alongside the apostles and elders yet is also above them.[4] This senior elder is accountable to the congregation and other elders as he ought to be. In short, a single-elder-led, or senior elder led, congregation could be best described as one in which a representative congregational governance is in practice and is strongly defensible biblically.

The biblical support of this model and the inherent accountability that Akin assumes are strengths. Garrett points out that this model tends to reduce the role of the congregation to one of only calling and ordination of pastor and staff, purchasing property, and discipline.[5] Additionally, another weakness of this model is the tendency to drift towards autocracy that Akin himself warns against.



[1] Brand, Chad Owen, and R. Stanton Norman. ed. Perspectives on Church Government: 5 Views. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2005), 65.

[2] Ibid, 64.

[3] Ibid, 66.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 79.

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