Closing Remarks on the Case for Congregationalism by S.J. Wellum

“The church is a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led body, and it requires leaders who are the same. Because there is no qualitatively spiritual difference between the leaders and the congregation, ecclesiological structures need to facilitate interaction between these two groups. Leaders are necessary because the church is still growing in conformity to Christ and there are many threats to that growth. However, leaders are also growing in their commitment to Christ, and therefore both groups need to balance one another as they share in governing the life of the church. Churches filled with unregenerate church members are a terrible problem, but so are churches whose offices and pulpits are filled with unregenerate church leaders.

Congregationalism locates authority in the church as a whole as it follows the directives of its Lord in the Scriptures. Elders and deacons provide leadership and guidance in the church’s work. Where the church and its leaders are at odds with each other, one or both are wrong, and they need to go back to the Scriptures and sort out their differences. Although congregationalism may not be as efficient as other organizational models, we believe it is compatible with the nature of the new covenant people of God and all that is revealed about them and their leaders in Scripture. The church has been described as a ‘colony of heaven’ and as such it should reflect the beauty of a people who are being transformed into the image of our Lord with ever-increasing glory (2 Cor 3:18). When all the biblical data regarding the church as the new-covenant people of God are collated and synthesized, the result should be a way of doing things that is ‘fitting and orderly’ (1 Cor 14:40 NIV), which a healthy practice of congregationalism should yield.”

– Stephen J. Wellum and Kirk Wellum, “The Biblical and Theological Case for Congregationalism” in Baptist Foundations – Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age


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