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Church Structure, a Danger

God’s kingdom is now in disarray; its members are scattered across many independent churches, denominations, and Catholicism. There are many competing theological perspectives, the proponents of each seemingly certain that their particular views are totally correct. What is either entirely missing, or so tiny as to be invisible in today’s churches, is the vitality of the early ecclesia assemblies. How can it be restored? How can the kingdom of God be unified once again? The kingdom of God is in the hands of the Christian believers but it cannot function as independent families working on their own. Interfamilial cooperation cannot be dispensed with; Christians have been blessed by God with different spiritual gifts, all of which are needed for the proper functioning of the body (1 Cor. 12).

A danger associated with churches, however, is structure. The less capable members look to the more capable, not just for guidance, but as leaders to follow and structure is formed. It seems utterly reasonable to increase efficiency by employing such structure. But there is a side-effect, one that has grown into a serious problem. We are not dealing here with machines or inanimate resources but with God’s creatures, creatures that have the ability to grow in grace and develop into a powerful force. When Christ is their leader, they must hear His voice and be sure it is His voice and not another’s that they hear. This leads them to serious personal study of His word and they become more able and more willing to do His work. They also become more responsible and more capable of bearing the great authority that God places on them. They become His kings and priests in this world (Rev. 1:6; 5:10).

All this is seriously compromised when organizational structure is introduced into the Christian assembly. Teachers are vital to progress and are much needed but they especially need to guard against the temptation to structure the assembly and become its leaders. When structure is introduced, responsibility and then authority shift from the families to the leader or leaders and the assembly gradually loses its God-intended, self-governed and self-motivated character. It becomes an impotent church, perhaps led by a dynamic pastor or two but with a spectator congregation instead of an active and vital membership.