About This Blog

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Understanding the Congregation's Authority (Jonathan Leeman)

TITLE: Understanding the Congregation's Authority (Church Basics)
AUTHOR: Jonathan Leeman
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2016, (74 pages).

What is the meaning of Church leadership? What about the people of God and the priesthood of believers? Congregational authority is less about the meetings and activities but more about the mission of Christ. According to author Jonathan Leeman, congregational authority has more to do with Jesus' discipleship program. He believes in congregationalism which states clearly the responsibilities of each member of the congregation that guards the gospel; that helps mature the disciple; that strengthens the whole church; that solidifies holy integrity; that equips the people to love one's neighbours.

In this booklet about Church leadership and congregational authority, the author highlights four types of popular leadership styles. The first is the pastor-led or elder-led church in which pastors and elders are the spokespersons on behalf of the whole church. They drive the direction and the final authority for the whole congregation. The second type is the elder-rule type which believes that the final authority belongs to the elders of each independent church. Everybody, including pastors are under the leadership and spiritual guidance of the elders. The third type is the presbyterian model in which a "group of elders" rule over the Church. The fourth type is the episcopalians which gives the bishop overall authority over the whole church. While all of them share the similar belief that Christ is lord over all, the different positions express unique perspectives toward membership, financial matters, church discipline, and how matters of the church are conducted.

In understanding the congregation's authority, Leeman essentially gives the whole church her job descriptions and what an elder-led congregationalism looks like. It is about coming back to the gospel order that the Church is continuing the work of Jesus, starting from where He left off. The big picture is that every single member of the church, both elders and non-elders have work to do. It is a jointly owned responsibility for discipleship. The elders assist in training and the members respond by putting into practice the gospel work, under guidance of the elders. It is understanding who the Church is and what is expected of the Church in which we are a member of. Leeman lists at least seven responsibilities:

  1. Church members are expected to attend Church regularly
  2. They are to preserve the gospel
  3. They are to affirm gospel citizens
  4. They are to attend members' meetings
  5. They disciple other members
  6. They share the gospel with others
  7. They follow their leaders 

He also addresses some critiques of congregationalism at the end of the book.

The author is an elder at the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC as well as the editorial director of 9Marks. This book is one among the six Church Basics series of books. The others are:
This book will have a limited audience given that it is about congregationalism. Even though the author deals with protesting statements from episcopalians and other forms of church governance, it will take more than one booklet to do the convincing, assuming it is possible to convince in the first place. That said, if one belongs to a congregationist community, this book will strengthen their beliefs and their convictions. It can also educate them on things that they do not know about. For others, it is a nice primer on the different kinds of church structures.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of B&H Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment