Why Study Church Organization?

The Bible prophesied a falling away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1-5). Some would change the true Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). The apostle Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus that they should take heed to the flock over which they were overseers (Acts 20:28). He told them to feed the flock (teach the members of the church) because false teachers would come. They would lead away disciples from the church which Christ purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28-30).

We learn from church history that this prophecy was soon fulfilled. Men began to depart from the faith. False teachers led away followers. Church leaders began to rule in ways God never intended. They began the type of organizations found in the Roman Catholic Church and other denominations. Just as Paul had foretold, the leaders of the church were the first to be corrupted.

One of the first ways that men left the Bible was in the matter of church organization. Elders began to rule over more than one church (1 Peter 5:1-4). Then “bishops” began to rule over the elders. Men continued to change the Bible plan of church government until finally a Pope was elected. There is no Pope in the Bible, but men had departed from the faith. There is still the danger that men will corrupt the true organization of the church. Whenever departure comes, it usually begins with the leaders.

Pride is the desire for self-glory. It is a great temptation to any leader. When someone has a position, he wants a greater position. When a leader has some power, he wants more power. This is why leadership in the church is so easily corrupted. Pride is a danger to every person. The mother of James and John wanted her sons to sit next to Jesus in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-28). Human nature has not changed. Men still want positions or prominence.

This is why the danger of corrupting God’s plan for governing the church is a present danger. Men sometimes enter the church today in hope of being leaders. Others are not satisfied to be humble servants of the Lord. Instead, they seek the greatest power they can attain. They will corrupt God’s plan in order to make a big place for themselves. Human pride easily corrupts church leadership.

The apostle Paul realized this as he called the elders from Ephesus to speak to them (Acts 20:17-30). He knew that if churches follow good leaders, they will become strong. If they follow bad leaders, they will become weak. This is why the Holy Spirit’s plan is for there to be qualified elders in every church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-9). Strong leadership makes a strong church. Weak leaders will make the church weak.

Hard work and much effort are required in order to have good leaders. The leaders of God’s people must be well-trained because their work is the most important work on earth.

Paul instructed Timothy: “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Teaching men who can teach others is God’s plan for making leaders.