Who Governs the Church?

Scripture, Elders, and Authority


Each denomination treats church leadership in a unique way. Some churches appoint elders or deacons, some work through committees, while others depend on the entire congregation to lead the church. Church leaders Ligon Duncan an Thabiti Anyabwile chat about the distinctions in leadership between Baptist and Presbyterian churches.


Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III is the Chancellor/CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary and the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology. Thabiti Anyabwile serves as a pastor at Anacostia River Church in the Washington, D.C. area. 



Ligon and Thabiti agreed that the Bible should be the foundation and source of church leadership. In Baptist and Presbyterian churches, Scripture informs and directs the local church. 

What do you think of Ligon and Thabiti’s initial comment about the Bible being the source of all authority in the church? Why? How do you see Scripture guiding the leadership of your church?
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How is your church governed? Do you have elders, pastors, deacons, or a combination of the three? What power or rule do the leaders of your church have?
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Thabiti said, “An elder without a Bible is an elder without authority.” What do you think of this statement? Do you agree? Why or why not?
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If you are in leadership at your church, what could you do this week to seek God’s will for your congregation? How could you pray for and care for the people you lead? If you are not in leadership, what could you specifically pray for the leaders in your church? How could you encourage them this week?
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 Spend the next few minutes in prayer for your church. If you lead the church, pray for wisdom, guidance, and discernment. Ask God to work in and through the members of your church for His glory. If you aren’t in leadership, pray for your leaders. Pray they would seek to follow God in all decisions. Thank God for your church and leaders and pray for opportunities to continue to serve. 


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