Amarillo Primitive Baptist Church
E-Bible Study – Volume I – Issue IV
A study on Doctrine
In Volume I Issue III of the Amarillo PBC E-Bible Study (published July 21, 2015) we began a series in which we will examine essential church practices. By starting with Church Autonomy as we did in Issue III we began with the basic foundation for all practices of a spiritually healthy church. If the church’s desire is not to have Christ as the authority and head of the church then all else will fail. We continue in this Issue with a similar though regarding how the church conducts its business.
Please keep in mind this series of Issues of the E-Bible study is intended to cover the essential practices of a spiritually healthy church. There are two guidelines which must be met in order for a practice to qualify as essential: 1) the practice must tie to a doctrine of the church; and 2) the absence of the practice could cause spiritual harm to the church. As a disclaimer, these issues on church practice will not address the ordinances of the church as those will be covered in more depth individually.
How should a church conduct its business?
The reality is that there is more to being an organized body of believers than gathering on Sunday morning for worship services. We must set aside a time to conduct the business of the church. We often call these conferences or business sessions and in them the church makes decisions about finances, building maintenance, upcoming meetings, supporting other churches, as well as, calling a pastor, filling the offices of the church, and handling church discipline. These decisions are all important and how they are made reflects the spiritual health of the church.
The essential practice for how the church makes decisions is something that we will call one member, one vote. In other words, each member, regardless of age, gender, or any other characteristic, has equal weight in deciding the business of the church. Decisions are made by the congregation with members having the opportunity to express their thoughts and then each member having the chance to vote. This practice leaves no room for a presiding pastor, a board of directors, a group of senior deacons or any other power structure.
Just as the essential practice of Church Autonomy reflects that Christ is the head of the church in not having external power structures, the essential practice of one member, one vote places authority in Christ by not having internal power structures. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 5:17-18, that when we are made new creatures in Christ that the old things are passed away and all things are made new, and that we are to be reconciled unto Christ. The desire to hold authority, to reign over others, to exercise power is a worldly desire and should be laid aside in regeneration. It has no place in the church and thus a spiritually healthy church holds to the essential practice of one member, one vote.
How does one member, one vote connect to the doctrine of the Primitive Baptist?
The essential practice of one member, one vote is directly tied to several key doctrinal issues. The first, which we have dealt with above, is that Christ is the head of the church. Any method of having a portion of the church (pastor, deacons, etc..) rule over the rest of the church puts a level between the congregation as a whole and Christ and elevates man instead of praising Jesus Christ. Therefore, in order to uphold the vital doctrinal point that Christ is the head of the church we must avoid internal and external power structures and the members, each individually and collectively, must be reconciled unto Christ and his leadership for the church.
A secondary doctrinal point that is reinforced by one member, one vote is the belief that a born again believer has been given a knowledge of the truth and a desire to serve God. Take time to read the events detailed in 3rd John 1:1-10. In this letter John records the fact that he has heard great testimony of the truth that is within the believers of the church he is writing to. He tells them how others have testified to the truth they hold and the charity that they express. He then tells them that he has a desire to come and visit them again and be with them. In verses 9 and 10 we are told of a man named Diotrephes. John describes him as one who likes to have preeminence in the church, speaks malicious words about others, refuses to receive the brethren, and casts out of the church those that do. Clearly, Diotrephus was not able to lay aside the old man, did not see Christ as the leader of the church, and was not loving of his brethren. Most importantly though, by not practicing one member, one vote, Diotrephus did not value each member as a repository of the truth of Jesus Christ and their need for hearing the gospel preached.
There are other points that we could make regarding one member, one vote but we should remember that this essential practice reinforces the authority of Christ over the church, the impact of regeneration, and the desire of believers to exercise their faith.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
- 3 John 1:1-10
- One Member, One Vote deals with the internal dealings of a Church
- One Member, One Vote avoids power structures and recognizes Christ as the Head of the Church
- One Member, One Vote recognizes that believers should have a need to exercise their faith
- One Member, One Vote shows the importance of each member as a part of the whole
In order to make this E-Bible study productive participation of many is important. If you have thoughts and/or questions regarding this particular topic or other associated topics please reply to this post and lets further the conversation.
May the Lord bless you in your studies,