Church Structure and Involvement
by Enrico Jayawiyanto (Jay) and Leonard Rusli (Leo)
In this paper, we want to expose
furthermore about CHURCH, because the essence of church itself is the people,
who are believers, congregation of believers. Church= people of God. In the
Bible, there are two types of people of God if we generalized them
chronologically. The first one is Israel (Old Testament), starting from Abraham.
The second one is the community of believers in this world (New Testament). The
definition that we are going to use is the latter one, which means the people of
This definition starts from The Pentecost.
Why Pentecost? It’s because that God
uses it as the turning point to change the way God relates to us.He relates to
us personally, not only through priests like the Old Testament era. The Church
that was pictured in the New Testament can be described as a body, a Body Of
Christ. According to the passage, the people in this body are filled with the
Spirit. This phenomenon only exists after the Day of Pentecost.
Distinction between O.T. Israel and
||Possible Consequences of
|Symbol of God's Dwelling
|Soul of every believer
(1 Cor 3:16, Eph 2:20-22)
|God lives in a building
(God in a box)
(Lev 8 - 9)
|Jesus Christ/Holy Spirit
|The unordained/lay Christians
become insignificant secondary and passive, unable to be used by God
||prescribed 'holy' days
(Lev 16, 23)
|Salvation once and for all,
everyday is made holy by God (Gal 4:1 - 11)
||legalism; formalistic approach
to God; getting acceptace from attending the 'holy' days (Xmas, Easter)
(Deut 30:6, Col 2:11)
|spiritual regeneration or
conversion through rituals not personal commitment
||emphasized incodes of law and
(Exodus 18:16; Lev 19)
|the law of grace emphasis on
God's grace through Jesus Christ
|legalism, acceptance from God
through good works, self-righteous
highly regulated and prescribed
(Exodus 20:8 - 11)
|worship is holistic dedicatino
of every aspect in everyday life
|impersonal and artificial
relationship with God
||Separated from unbelievers,
||in the midst of unbelievers,
(1 Cor 9:19-23)
|isolation from the world,
ignorance of the great commission.
Priesthood of All Believers
From all the things listed in the
previous page, we want to emphasize on priesthood. In the New Testament (NT),
there is a concept called “Priesthood of All Believers”. This means that
each one of us, who believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior, has a direct
access to God of the universe, which enabled by the Death of Christ (Heb
10:19-20). The word “ecclesia”, which means, “to be called out” is the
word used in NT for “CHURCH”. Thus, the Church is being called out by God to
be distinct, to be distinct from what? From the world and its system, values,
and view (1 Jn 2:15-16). This distinction exists between the world and the
church, but not within the church itself.
Nowadays, the Church community
introduces terms such as Clergy and Laity. The clergy are the ordained
ministers, pastors, who usually have gone through special education. The laity
are the rest of the Church members; common people like us. What does the Bible
say about this? The Bible has never made a distinction between clergy and laity
nor between the people who has a theological education and who doesn’t. It is
true that there are some differences inside the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12 and Rom
12) but each one is still a member of one another, thus the differences are for
a purpose of complementary.
Nevertheless, within the
undifferentiated unity of the people of God differences do exist –
differences, which relate not to their standing before God but to their function
in the community (Stott, p33). The root problems of clergy-laity, where laity as
God’s people also are not being empowered, is a misconception in defining the
Church itself. In the NT, God designed the Church as a unified church, with no
favoritism (Rom 10:12-13). The One who empowered us to profess that Jesus is
Lord is The One Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:1-3), the same Spirit who gives us the
spiritual gift(s) (vs. 4-11), as we are being baptized in the same Spirit also
(vs. 12-13). There is some different type of perversion from this truth.
In this paper, the definition of the
term clergy and laity will be redefined, because that is the main and root
misunderstanding of the problem. But for the purpose of this paper, when the
terms clergy and laity is used, it is to be understood as explained in two
1.Clericalism and Dualism
Clericalism is due to a distorted image of
the Church. Clericalism has too often kept the laity in subjection and condemned
them to a position of inferiority and inactivity. The “priestly” people do
all ministries. The word “Laity” comes from the word laos which, in Greek,
originally means people or any crowd of people. This word is then evolve to mean
the mass of people in city-state, distinguished from kleros, the magistrate,
chief priests, suggesting that the kleros is not part of laos. This word also
evolved in the English language as a synonym of amateur or not professional,
unqualified to be called expert. This caused the rest of the people in the
Church to be passive and not participating in the work of the Kingdom of God.
does the layman really want? He wants a building which looks like a church; a
clergyman dressed in the
approves; services of the kind he’s been used to, and to be left alone”
Laity did not get a chance to be a
minister in the areas that are involving “big” decision making process,
especially for the important stuff. They were perceived as “less spiritual”
and have less understanding of God’s Word. In the beginning, they were never
equipped by the clergymen to be ready.
There are two manifestations of this
a. Autocratic Clericalism, where the
clergy dominates the entire ministry.
b. Dualism, a separation between clergy
and laity, where there are some ministries that are reserved by the
An example of dualism is Roman
Catholic, where there is a clear distinction between the clergy and laity, and
according to them, together, they make the fullness of church. This is a
distorted view and it can produce an empty and shallow fellowship. Each division
(clergy and laity) has their own job description, but there is no accountability
and care for one another, thus there are no partnership in their ministry and
Here are a view characteristic of
|Churches spend their money on clergy
|Decisions are made primarily by
|Standards are determined by the
|The laity is not trained to make
theological decisions, just pragmatic ones
|Education for clergy is the major
The second possible scenario is the anti
of the first one, an attitude that hates clergymen. This is obviously a wrong
response to clericalism. This kind of attitude forms a slippery slope of
liberalism. If we see God’s design of church, there are some pastoral
ministries that God appointed for His Church, even though it can be in many
forms. In Paul and Barnabas’ ministry, they appointed elders in every church.
In Philipi, Paul addressed his letter to the deacons, and in Titus, he
specifically said, “…that you might amend what was defective, and appoint
elders in every town as I directed you.” (Tit 1:5).
There are two words that are used in
the Bible to authorize clerical leadership:
In the 1 Thess 5:12, “…to respect
those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord…” and in 1 Tim 3:5,
this word was used to describe a role of a manager, or man’s management inside
the house. In 1 Tim 5:17, “who rule well…”. All of these passages describe
that there is such thing as authority in the Church. The other meaning of this
word is headship and “to be concern about” (Rom 12:8). The ministry of these
people is for equipping, teaching or preaching (1 Tim 5:17).
In Hebrew 13, this word was used three
times and translated into “you leaders”. The same word also used when Joseph
was appointed as a governor of Egypt. We must be careful in interpreting the
meaning of authority that God has given. Even though the Church is instructed to
be subject to the leaders (Heb 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to their
authority…”, Jesus, teaches about servant leadership, where who wants to be
the first has to be the last.
So, how can we have a balanced view?
This can be pertained by an understanding that all laity believers are the
Church, and the ordained ministers are part of the laity themselves with a
special mandate as to serve the Church and equip them to be a witness to the
“You know that those who are supposed to
rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise
authority over them. But it shall not be
so among you; but whoever would be great among you should be your
servant (diakonos), and whoever would be
first among you must be slave (doulos) of all.” (Mark 10:42-44) The Church
main purpose is to worship God (Ex 19:4-6), and the duty of the clergy to the
laity is to help them worship, equip them, and lead them in worship in every
area of their life. The second purpose of the Church is to be witness. Thus, the
clergy have to empower the laity to be able to do become an effective witness to
This relationship between clergy and
laity is described clearly by Paul;
“And his gifts were that some should be
apostle, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,
for the equipment of the saints, for the
work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ.” (Eph 4:11-12)
In KJV, some commas were deleted, thus
it is misunderstood that the leaders should do;
1.Equipping the saints (the laity)
2.Doing the work of ministry
3.Building the Body of Christ.
On the contrary, the correct
interpretation is that clergy should do the 1st part, and laity should do the
rest. If clergy should do them all, so why need equipping after all?
All believers are priests, ministers, and
servants, but, some function as pastors and teachers. We need to remember that
equipping doesn’t stop at the point where only pastors and teachers are the
ones who are doing the equipping. This will result in a manner of
“master-apprentice”. Equipping needs to be done in order to make laity
(apprentice) to be a teacher (master) who is able to teach and lead others to
Christ and become an active minister to them.
Stott expands Paul’s letter to the
Ephesians very well;
They were saying “I belong to
Paul,” “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas.” In other words,
defining themselves in relation to
their leaders. Paul told them that the opposite was the truth. “All things are
yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas,…all are yours.” (I Cor 3:22-23).
So if anybody belongs to anybody in the
Church, it is not the laity who belong
to the clergy, but the clergy who belong to the laity. We are theirs, their
servants for Jesus’ sake. In olden
days it was customary for a lay person to conclude a letter to his bishop with
the words, “I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant.” It would be
more biblical, however, for a bishop (or any pastor) to sign himself a lay
person’s obedient servant!
Elders and Deacons
In NT Church, there were never
mentioned about ordained priest nor a single guy who is the master of everything
(expect Jesus of course). But instead, the leaders of NT Church were always
plural, and they were called elders/bishops and deacons. If we pay a close
attention, the NT indicates that elders and deacons are to formed in a plurality
context (Acts 14:23, Tit 1:5, 1 Pet 5:2).
Does the selection or qualification of
elders and deacons emphasize on gifts? No, as a matter of fact, Paul emphasizes
on spiritual maturity. This is a pitfall that we may get into. We need to
believe that it’s the Holy Spirit that will change us inside out and along in
our maturity, He will put us in a role that fits. If we emphasize on gifts;
- We’ll tend to forget about being
spiritually mature, instead we’ll be more focus on getting or discovering
- We’ll tend to make a maturity level
based on gifts.
- A very gifted man can be spiritually
What are the differences between
deacons and elders?
There are some differences reflected in
1 Tim 3 and Tit 1; Deacons aand elders differs in functions. In most Churches,
deacons serve mostly as administrators, while elders become teachers and own the
leadership role of the church.
In terms of spiritual qualifications,
deacons is slightly less strict than elders. The Bible mentions that elders must
not be a new convert. I does not mention this requirement for the deacons.
However, the qualification “to be tested” apply to both. In reality, testing
of character quality, service willingness and motivation needs time anyway. This
testing is then, a much better measuring tool, not chronological time of
Elders are also required to be able to
“refute those who contradict” and to teach, because they need to be teachers
and equippers of the church to do ministry in the world. This particular ability
or gift is not required for deacons, but of course, all should equip themselves
to answer questions on their faith or doctrine as in I Pet 3:15.
Qualification of Elders:
Let’s analyze 1 Tim 3:1-7 for
elders’ (overseers’) qualifications;
|Above reproach, taken from a Greek
word anepilempton or anegkleton which means good reputation, cannot be
accused. Paul put this as the first qualification for a reason, because
it’s a summary of all things we would mention latter on. This
qualification is vague, but the positive things are evident.
|One-woman man or “husband of one
wife”. This qualification does not mean that only man can be an elder, but
it puts more emphasize on sexual morality in the present stage.
|Sober, or temperate. Taken from a
Greek word nephalion which means sober. This is pretty clear, an elder has
to be spiritually healthy or orientation in order to have a clear
perspective on life.
|Prudent, or sane, self-controlled,
from a Greek word sophrona. This means “not crazy”, mentally healthy (2
Cor 5:13, Mark 5:15), or sensible, reasonable (tit 2:6, 1 Pet 4:7).
|Respectable, from the Greek word
kosmion which means well ordered, orderliness, stability.
|Hospitable, philoxenon or philexenia,
which literally translated to “lovers of strangers”. Interest to do an
outreach to people, with a genuine heart.
|Able to teach, didaktikon, where we
have teaching skill. An understanding of the Bible is a requirement to be
able to encourage and admonish, including “refuting those who
contradict”. This goes further that elders must able to teach the Word to
others, explain, and discerning (Heb 5:11-14, Heb 4:12).|
|Not addicted to wine, this doesn’t
mean only wine or liquor, but all substance abuse, no dependency. Have to be
able to apply and use freedom respectively & wisely and not becoming a
stumbling block to a weaker believer (1 Cor 8).
|Pugnacious, me plekten which means a
striker. This means that the person is not an abuser, either physically or
|Gentle, or kind, from Greek word
epieke, which means gracious, emphatic. If we see from the structure of
verse 3, we can see that what Paul meant here was that “not pugnacious and
addicted to much wine”, not quick tempered, rigorous, rigid in his
interaction with others, understanding, thoughtful about others’ feeling.
|Peaceable, amachon, lover of peace,
positive and constructive thinking.
|Free from the love of money, not
greedy, from the word aphilagruron that mean to be content with what he has
(1 Tim 6:8), simple lifestyle, have a generous giving attitude. Motivation
is the big thing in this qualification, …is it overshadowed by financial
|Manages his household well, from the
Greek word prohistemenon, which means to lead, to manage, to be stand for.
In family life, it means to be able to lead one’s household, whether in a
family or other circumstances. This includes applying biblical principles
and being an example in it.|
|Not a new convert, me neophuton is
the Greek word. This means that the person has been tested by God in his
Christian life and has experiences in his walk with God without being
There are some additions from Titus 1:
|Have a good reputation with those
who outside, which literally means “with unbelievers”- exothen. The
person is not a hypocrite, people who knows him speak well of him generally,
little discrediting, and has an awareness of his comfort zone and able to
|Not self-willed, from Greek words,
me autade, neither egocentric nor selfish. Able to work with others and
surrender one’s will for the benefit of others. There’s an aspect of
humility here, able to apologize, not rebellious.
|Not quick tempered, me orgilon, not
violent and plunge into bitterness. Anger itself is not the thing (Eph 4),
but the quickness of getting to it is the main thing in this verse, rather
he should be patient, avoid outburst. This has a lot of thing to do with
self controlled, ability to forgive people and drop offenses.|
Qualifications of Deacons
|Loving what is good, philagathon,
agathon means goodness, that’s where we get a name Agathon, who is The God
of Goodness in Greek. He is able to demonstrate a lifestyle that reflects an
enjoyment of living in Godly perspective. Enjoy doing ministry, even though
things may go hard.
|Just, from a Greek word dikiaon,
means fair, no favoritism. He must be able to show no favoritism in dealing
with people and managing ministries. Able to resist one’s bias and
tendencies to be selfish and set forth for God’s plan and will.
|Devout, hosion, seriousness, in
approaching and knowing God and His will to be applied in ministries and his
Deacons, from 1 Tim 3:8-12, have the
same criteria as elders without the things listed in the differences
between elders and deacons. Here they are:
|Dignity, respectable, as the elders.
|Not double tongue, means consistency
in saying, not a liar.
|Not addicted to much wine, not
having a substance abuse.
|Not fond of sordid gain, not
selfish, nor trying to have a personal gains/biases. Willing to sacrifice
possessions/money to an enhancement of the gospel regularly.|
|Holding fast to the mystery of faith
with a clear conscience. This means know the Bible/scripture and apply it in
|Beyond reproach and already tested.
Deacons have to be able show the work of ministry effectively and recognize
them as a deacon if they are beyond reproach.|
|Not malicious gossips. This is very
clear, deacons must be able to show ability to keep secret, and not
involving in slanders.
|Temperate, sober, spiritually
healthy and emotionally stable.
|Faithful in all things, reliable.|
|Husband of one wife, literally
one-woman man, emphasized on sexual morality.
|Manages his household well.|
Basic Types of Local Church Structure
From the correct understanding of the
clergy-laity ministry, and the Biblical qualification of elders and deacons,
Local Churches build their structure. These three are some manifestations of
Neither of them may be judged to be more
Biblical or less. Each of them has their own advantages and pitfalls.
·From word : bishop
·Have 1 high bishop
(cardinal) over several bishop
·Hierarchy of one man over
·Example : Roman Catholic,
Anglican, Methodist, Greek Orthodox
·Church governed by board of
·Board of elder in local
church above that council, above that synods
·Similar to republic
·Example : Presbyterian,
Lutheran, some Baptist
·Independent, not bound to
rule any overseer (bishop, etc)
·Example : Quakers, Grace
brethren, most Pentecostal
Practical tips for involvement in a
1.Involve God in our daily prayer for
our ministries and also pray for the church.
2.Developing friendship with the
elders/deacons/pastors, so that we know how they work, with a purpose of our
involvement. Try to find out the church
3.Start our involvement in a smaller
group, in order to get to know each other in the the church/fellowship, thus we
can begin by making an impact there.
4.Try a ministry or several ministries
that have open opportunities for us to make an impact and according to our
5.Don’t entertain consumerism
orientation. Exhort one’s desire to serve and make contribution to the church.
6.Don’t rush, be patient to get an
opportunity in ministry. Sometimes we need to wait patiently for the right
moment and condition in order to be able to make a difference.
7.Be humble, don’t feel that you have
a “silver bullet”. Follow things that have been around.
8.Try to regenerate values that we
learned, start by sharing and being a witness, don’t start “teaching” it
9.Don’t become a “Lone Ranger”,
build networks with friends from old churches or fellowship, share some thoughts
10.Keep an open mind, respect others’
opinion, and try to get a win-win situation.
1.Stott, John, “One People”, Revel
2.McCallum, Dennis, “Walking In
3.House, H. Wayne, “Charts of Christian
Theology and Doctrine”
4.Christian Servanthood 1 Materials, Xenos
Christian Fellowship 1998
5.McCallum, Dennis, “The Body Life
Series”, Xenos Christian Fellowship 1998