I figured I would articulate a bit, one by one, on the items I listed in my article The Ideal Church from some time ago.

 

 

 

  • Practices Presbyterian (rule by elder) form of church government.

 

To me its pretty self-explanatory. The Bible recognizes and describes two distinct New Testament church offices; Elders and Deacons. They are quite distinct from one another, and Elders are also described in the plural sense so a lone pastor does not fulfill the scriptural imperative, even though my southern Baptist background would disagree. A plurality of elders is the only way to follow the scriptural mandate with integrity.

A friend recently described to me a tale of a young church plant that even though having an elder board or something similar, all decisions essentially went through the pastor, so the board existed as a sounding board for ideas but with absolutely no leadership authority. This is much like how congregational government works. I find it odd that as Protestants we would abandon the authority of a pope, but yet set up the equivalent of a pope in each of our churches. The entire life of the church and its vision is wrapped in one man, who has the capability of sinning and even making poor decisions.

 

So a plurality of elders keeps a pastor not only accountable, but also provides him support for the times he is struggling, which is inevitable.

 

  • Embraces the Biblical idea of the “priesthood of all believers”

 

A church needs a significant leadership of laymen, who are not just elders or deacons that help guide and tend to the church. They do this through having vision, ideas, or seeing needs that need to be addressed, so it requires them to be concerned not only with their own spiritual health but also that of the church as a whole. They also do this through teaching, and service to others. In this, a teaching pastor’s leadership is not threatened but rather supported. The education, study, and experience a pastor has obtained, while alone is not sufficient for the health of a church, in quite necessary. So to those who believe the “priesthood of all believers” eliminates the need for visible leaders are doomed to sit around in their collective ignorance.

 

  • Practices Communion every Sunday service, with real bread being broken, real wine, and carefully selected music to help reflect on what it symbolizes.

 

I once heard someone say “If your church practices altar calls more often than communion then there is something wrong” and I would agree. There is no greater symbol and sign for the communion we have with God through Jesus as our mediator, and for the unity we therefore have with one another. That communion we have with God is actually central to any worship we engage in, so how can something so central be ignored 3 out of 4 sundays a month, or even more? The early church that met homes didn’t have altar calls or worship teams, but they had prayer and broke bread together as a rule every time they met. Who are we to subtract from that model??

 

Whoever dreamed up communion wafers? Jesus and his disciples broke real bread. The single loaf broken into pieces symbolizes our unity as pieces of the same loaf, the Body of Christ. And until Prohibition and Sam Welch’s idea to market grape juice to Christians, the church as a whole partook of real wine. So again, why depart from that model?

 

Many churches ritually sing “Blessed Be the Tie that binds” or a similar song to commemorate communion Sundays, but if we actually practiced every week we would see the opportunity to use a wide variety of songs, focusing on various aspects of the sacrament; that being 1) the fact Jesus’ body was broken for us, 2) the fact that His blood was spilt for us, 3) that fact that we have unbroken, immeasurable communion with God now in light of this, 3) and in Christ we now have communion with one another, universally through faith and not by culture, race, or nationality.

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