There is an important order that presides over the house of God; it is innate to the character of God, and it is how He designed the Body to function while in this world. It is an order composed of the law of Christ and the law of the Holy Spirit. This applies not only to the roles and function of leadership, but to the interaction and conduct of the whole body itself; a body that has its leadership roles “in order”, but does not have love, is just as out of order as a body that has women in leadership positions over men.
These passages introduce us to God’s design for Church order in the Body: 1st Corinthians 11 to 14; Ephesians 4:1-16 and 5:8-33; Colossians 3:12-17; 1st Timothy 2 to 3, and 5; 1st Thessalonians 4:1-8; Titus 1to 2; 1st Peter 3:1-7, 5:1-11. The attitude of Christ composes the heart of Church order, and to serve with love according to the ability supplied to you by the Holy Spirit with grace is the expression and result of Church order.
Our commitment is to receive Jesus’ instruction regarding Church leadership:
BECOMING A SERVANT: When the ten disciples heard this, they became indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” ~Matthew 20:24-28
A FAITHFUL SERVANT: Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord finds doing so when he comes. Most certainly I tell you that he will set him over all that he has. But if that evil servant should say in his heart, ‘My lord is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with the drunkards, the lord of that servant will come in a day when he doesn’t expect it, and in an hour when he doesn’t know it, and will cut him in pieces, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. That is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be. ~Matthew 24:45-51
SOBERNESS OF BEING A SERVANT: Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment. ~James 3:1
Church leadership should never take lessons from worldly leaders and leadership techniques. Church leaders need to be very careful that they never become heavy-handed, and take upon themselves “domineering” approaches that “exercise great authority” over their brethren. It is unfortunate that this has become common place among us today, but, it is not something that Jesus will accept.
We believe that Godly fear and reverence for the position of leadership, which God Himself assigns in the Church, should be on both those who serve, and those who are served. Leaders have an especially heavy burden as those who have watch over our souls, and it is proper that we look for ways to “bear one another’s burden with love”. We do not look at our leaders as infallible men who dominate the Body, but as brothers whom we submit to according to the authority of Christ that they bear, and support in prayer and the exercise of our own spiritual gifts within the body.
We recognize all the offices appointed by God in the Church for her edification and equipping, but we continue to seek greater discernment regarding those offices that we do not yet see or have in our assembly, such as apostles or prophets, and ask God in prayer to bless us with those members that will contribute what we need to grow up into maturity.
One office that merits particular attention to setting in order is the office of “bishop” or “elder”. The Greek term for “bishop” or “overseer” is “episkopos” (ἐπισκοπή), and it is used interchangeably with the Greek term for “elder”, which is “presbuteros” (πρεσβύτερος): Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7; 1 Peter 5:1,2. The term “elder” would have been more familiar to Jewish believers who were used to the offices of the synagogue, while the term “bishop/overseer” would have been more familiar to Greek believers who were used to the offices of state. And we believe that church eldership’s are designed to function as a plurality of elders, not as offices held by one man.