How did the Church structure come about?
In much of the developed countries current church structure is based off the Catholic church.
Yes, indeed there should be leadership of elders, but not according and to the point of the current model.
(Note: this is not instruction to the Catholic church only, but all churches of varying beliefs and nor am affiliated with any denomination.)
In the Catholic church they have they have titles such as: Pope and Archbishop. Yes, these are unbiblical terms, but the idea of these titles and the pride of the titles has filtered into other denominations and non-denominational churches.
If you go to a particular church for example the title: “Reverend” and “Pastor” are often used as part of their name. Such as: Pastor Joe or Reverend Mike. No one should be called “Reverend” because you are not God and you are not be revered (See Psalm 111:9).
The disciples of Jesus never labeled their names as such. They were simply known by their first name when they were addressed by others or when they addressed others.
These titles create an atmosphere of superiority even unintentionally sometimes by the elders of the church. The same can be said of calling someone “Brother John” or “Sister Amy” making what we are members of one another into titles.
I had an experience early on with my walk with the Lord whereby I unintentionally offended someone outside the Body of Christ by saying, [“Sister”…so and so]. It alienates those outside the body of Christ in using titles in addressing others as if the church is an exclusive club.
Another example of this is when a person who has been coming to church a while who has not received the Holy Ghost is not referred to as a brother/sister in the Lord since he/she is not born again. It may be true as a technicality, but no need to dig at it and not make them feel like they are not a member of the church by not addressing them as Brother John or Sister Amy, hence why titles of this sort should not be used in the body of Christ so as not to make them feel insulted because they are not recognized as such. A brother or sister in Christ is what you are; it should not be used as a title and the same is said of a pastor, deacon, evangelist, or any other office or calling (See Job 32:31).
Superiority also comes into play when a church elder uses his position to exact authority over the flock of God. The Bible says we are not be lords over God’s heritage only an ensample (1 Peter 5:3).
An example of this comes from when you seem to have to ask permission form something from the pastor of the church that is outside of the Word of God. An experience a brother in the Lord of mine had was when he was visiting a church and was denied the right to take communion simply for the fact he was unknown to them and would need to speak with the pastor first.
The only thing the Bible says, is that a person is to examine oneself before taking communion and the person must be member of the Body of Christ. Nowhere does it say that an elder is to examine you if you want to partake of communion (1 Corinthians 10:16 & 1 Corinthians 11:28).
The churches in America and many developed countries have a church construct of ordered events that certain things take place at certain times during the service. Where is the leading of the Holy Spirit in that (Romans 8: 14)?
The Bible says we are to edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11). How are we to edify one another and use the gifts God has given each person in the Body of Christ if the only person who is looked to and is talking is a church elder or the pastor? Many members of the body of Christ need to be spiritually “weaned off” reliance of the pastor not they don’t need oversight to some degree (Hebrews 13: 7 & 17). We must obey those who have the rule over us as long as it lines up with God’s Word.
In regards to others speaking, I am not saying there should be a “free-for-all” of talking and laying on of hands hence why Paul the Apostle laid out ground rules for what order in the church looked like in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 – 15 (1 Corinthians 14: 26 -33).
Discernment also plays a role in order of the church service so the Spirit of God is leading it and not letting flesh glory in His presence (1 Corinthians 12:10 & 1 Corinthians 1: 29). There is something the body of Christ must know, there is no such thing as a “layman” or “layperson” in the body of believers because God can choose to use who He will at any time (1 Corinthians 1: 29 & 1 Corinthians 12: 14 -27).
The third epistle of John verses 1- 11 shows a good example of church leadership wanting the “preeminence” and should be taken as a warning against this kind of haughtiness in all its forms.
Another note on church structure is certain physical elements that create an atmosphere of superiority/pride and that is things such as: high back chairs for elders/deacons and a dais. We must be careful not to be Pharisee-minded (See Luke 20: 46 & Luke 11: 43).
I once was at a gathering and I noted how some elders and deacons seemed to congregate towards one another even during times of eating and fellowship and in doing so even unintentionally we create atmosphere that divides members into cliques. This ought not to be so (see Mark 12:39 & Romans 12:16).
There is no need for these physical features among other such things that cause people especially in developed countries to look at the outward and inward appearance of a church building that which America and other nations have gotten used to seeing and this is what some people look for in a church. Whether it is high back chairs or stained glass windows much of the body of Christ is too comfortable and used to being in buildings of extravagance. I heard a conversation once and which case that person was lauding about the skylight roof of the church. The first churches were in houses (Acts 2: 46) and with the way persecution is intensifying let us not get comfortable with such things and get rid of it.
The last point I will make is in church structure specifically in regards to elder meetings on decision-making on funds and other such matters. Often times these decisions in some churches are made without the presence of other members who are not elders/deacons/deaconesses and that ought not to be since all members can contribute something in an orderly fashion.
These artificial/physical constructs within the body of Christ need to be torn down so cliques and the like will not be formed because the elders are to be the ensamples and not a delegated body like that of politicians making decisions; being they are older in the Lord they must see babes in Christ will learn what they see and may become just as haughty or prideful inadvertently. So let us tear down these walls that create an air of superiority.
Soon to come a short article on denominationalism and how it creates division in the body of Christ.