The leadership of the church has been the subject of much discussion in recent years, and rightly so. In order for the church to succeed in fulfilling its mission, it must have the proper type of strong leadership to guide it on its course. The common practice for churches today is to invest a great deal of their leadership in the hands of one man, the pastor. But this practice has been called into question by many recently. A number of scholars are insisting that, according to the New Testament pattern, the church is to be led by a plurality of elder and deacons.
Chapter 2 discusses the question of a normative form of church government. It surveys the debate between the flexible form position and the normative pattern position. No solid conclusion is formed, but an understanding of the issues necessary to prepare a solution is gained.
Chapter 3 presents the evidence for a consistent pattern. It will be demonstrated that the New Testament reveals a consistent organizational structure. The influence that the local situation had on the development of this structure is examined, concluding that the pattern is more a result of divine intention than situational influence. The prescriptive nature of its presentation to us is also noted.
Chapter 4 describes what the pattern was in the New Testament. It explains the roles of the elders and deacons, and relates their function to the nature of the church. The flexibility of the pattern demonstrates its versatility throughout the centuries.
Chapter 5 documents the two most common pollutions of the pattern as it has been misapplied throughout history. The damage that has been done to the proper functioning of the body by the corruptions of clericalism and autocracy is noted.
Chapter 6 lists the advantages of the pattern if it is followed in the manner intended. Both the benefits of adopting the pattern and the dangers of abandoning it are expounded.
Chapter 7 discusses the attainment of the pattern. Supposing a pastor would want to encourage his church to move more in line with the Scriptural blueprint, this chapter suggests specific steps that can be taken to achieve the goal.
Chapter 8 summarizes the study and draws appropriate conclusions it is hoped that the Scripture will speak for itself, drawing us to the point where we can visualize the tremendous importance of proper church government structure.