How Our Churching Structure Subjugates the People (Part 1)

Background:

I shall share some personal convictions in the following work—convictions that I have had for some years now. But first, let me issue some disclaimers. Considering that my position on the omniscience ladder is very low, I am reasonably certain that not everything I have to say will be correct; that is, I count on readers to point out defects. There are a few generalizations in this work, even where I know that exceptions exist. Lastly, I really do not mean any offence in this work. This piece is informed by years of observations and the demonstrable ineffectiveness of the status quo. Shall we start properly then?

I have no doubts that there was a season when many of our current church practices were effective. Indeed, I think some of them will still be effective in some contexts. By and large, however, I do not think that they are quite effective today. Consider the ubiquitous churching structure where one person, usually a man, supposedly hears from God weekly and teaches the parishioners accordingly. (This structure seems so intimately connected with “church” that it is hard to think of a church without thinking about the structure.) I’m convinced that this structure in its typical form has outlived its usefulness and should be reviewed. Readers may wonder if this structure is not sacrosanct. Hence, I think we should begin the conversation by considering the sacrosanctity question. In other words, on what authority does the one-Oga-at-the-top order of things rest, and what is its origin? As it turns out, there does not seem to be a prescriptive biblical precedence for this at all as it shall be argued below.

Examples in the early churches?

The clearest relevant churching example in the New Testament is probably the Jerusalem Church. What is quite clear about that Church, interestingly, is that it did not merely have one leader. Instead, it had many CO-EQUAL leaders governing its affairs, a critical point to keep in mind. Besides, looking to Paul as the originator of this churching structure is also quite difficult to defend for many reasons. To begin with, while it is true that Paul often taught in churches for extended periods, he never taught a church for a lifetime (or until retirement). Moreover, Paul taught NEW believers for extended periods, a rather shrewd pedagogical move that would have ensured rapid grounding of fresh members. More relevantly, we have evidence that Paul generally had co-equal partners in his ministry. He started out with Barnabas and later had Silas. These men were not Paul’s protégés in any way. They were some of the original believers in Christ in Jerusalem even before Paul became one.

To be continued . . .

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