Question:

We have no elders at our small congregation. Do you have information available on the workings of these meetings and it rules? What authority its president has versus its preacher?

This probably a funny question to ask, but we do need some advice.


Answer:

It is clear in the New Testament that congregations did exist, at least for a period of time, without elders. Approximately two years after establish churches in various cities, we read: "So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed" (Acts 14:23).

Obviously the work of a church must continue even when there is a lack of qualified men to do all the duties. Most congregations settle on having the men holding regular meetings to make decisions on behalf of the church. But as some of us note, such a method of operation is not even hinted at in the New Testament. What is found is that decisions were made by the whole church. See the sermon outline, "Business Meetings." It also strikes me as important that this use of decisions by the whole church was used even when elders were present.

It would be a mistake to say that because no elders are present, then any organization would do to carry out the work of the church. I can see that when a congregation is gathered, that someone would be asked to coordinate the meeting so that everything can be done in an orderly fashion (I Corinthians 14:40). But I would object to creating a position, such as "president," where none exists in the New Testament. In most congregations the person in charge of the meetings is rotated among the men if no elders are present. Women are not placed in charge of such meetings because of I Timothy 2:12.

A preacher is not in charge of a congregation. In the operation of a congregation he is simply just another member. He does hold authority (Titus 2:15), but it deals with the teaching of the gospel and the accuracy of that teaching, not the operation of the church. So in a meeting, I might be asked what the Bible says about a particular matter and my answer might carry some weight because of my duties as a preacher, but I, as a preacher, do not decide on my own what a congregation does.