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How are Churches Governed?

How are churches goverened

Church governance refers to the structure and system of authority that organizes and directs the communal and spiritual activities of a Christian community. The Bible, being the foundational text for Christian belief and practice, offers principles that have been interpreted in various ways to form different models of church governance. These models can broadly be categorized into episcopal, presbyterian, and congregational, each with its own unique approach to leadership and decision-making within the church.

Biblical Basis for Church Governance

  1. Episcopal: This model emphasizes a hierarchical structure with bishops as the leaders. A key verse often cited is Titus 1:5, where Paul instructs Titus, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.”
  2. Presbyterian: This model focuses on a system of representative governance by elders. A foundational verse for this model is 1 Timothy 4:14, which mentions, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.”
  3. Congregational: This model advocates for the autonomy of the local church and the authority of the congregation in decision-making. Matthew 18:17 is often referenced: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Three Main Takeaways:

  1. Diversity in Unity: The variety of governance models reflects the diversity within the body of Christ. While Christians may organize their communities differently, all seek to follow the teachings of the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Authority and Service: Regardless of the model, church leaders are called to be servants. As Jesus taught in Mark 10:42-45 (paraphrased for emphasis), leadership in the kingdom of God is not about exercising authority over others but about serving them.
  3. Adaptability and Contextual Relevance: The different models of church governance have developed in response to historical, cultural, and theological contexts. This adaptability highlights the church’s mission to be relevant and effective in its witness and service across various settings.

Church governance is an expression of the church’s organizational and spiritual life, aiming to foster unity, uphold doctrinal integrity, and advance the church’s mission in the world.


  • Greg Gaines

    Father / Grandfather / Minister / Missionary / Deacon / Elder / Author / Digital Missionary / Foster Parents / Welcome to our Family https://jesusleadershiptraining.com/about-us/

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