Our longing as a local church is that Jesus Christ might have His way amongst us, that He might have the pre-eminence. For, our personal experience has been as the Word of God declares, “for to ME to live is Christ”, therefore we know that, for US to live will also be by Christ! So, as Jesus is given His rightful place exalted above all, Lord of all, we live personally and collectively. The real problem we or any church faces is where man gets in the way – where we get in the way. What trouble we bring to the church when we get in, where Jesus should be. But what blessing, what fullness, what love, meekness, gentleness, truth and grace we find when Jesus has the pre-eminence! This is the Fathers highest thought for the Chuch, Christ exalted in us and us exalted in Christ: that Christ might be all in all. This is our longing and prayer. So, as you are amongst us that is what we trust you will find, no man exalted, bar one – our precious Lord Jesus. There is no predominant man amongst us, and possibly quite strange for most in Christendom there is none bearing name or title such as “Pastor”. We believe the scripture is clear regarding the local church and leadership (for want of a better word), the Lord has set elders to shepherd the saints (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Timothy 3: 1-7; Titus 1:5-9). These elders are the ones that hold the office of a bishop, the office remains for Gods governance but obviously the elders change as time would insist. For us at the moment, we have no ordained elders, but we have six brothers who together look to the Lord regarding the shepherding and feeding of the flock of God, and the involvement and inclusion of the rest of the body of Christ.
How does this all work at church level?
Sunday mornings: are reserved for the feeding, teaching and edification of the saints. This ministry will come from the “elders” or those they feel God has gifted for the building up and furtherance of the church.
Sunday evening: is primarily reserved for the ministry of the wider body. Here the wider body has the opportunity to share what they are learning in their personal walk with the Lord. For the local church to function, the body must function. This means brothers and sisters, young and old have the opportunity to share testimony.
Here are a couple of obvious references to the ministry of the wider body at the local gathering:
“Philip the evangelist…the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy”. Acts 21: 8-9
“But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth” 1 Cor. 11:5
“Now there are diversities of gifts…but it is the same God which worketh all IN ALL”. 1 Cor. 12: 4-5
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood…a royal priesthood” 1 Peter 2: 5, 9
“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:16
Taking a quote from Grant Hayman, whom the Lord chose to establish this local church,
There cannot be any guarantee of the predominance of Christ and a full expression of him where one man or any man is featured above another believer in the local gathering and function of the Church…the beauty of Christ can only be fully expressed through the whole body of Christ. There are dangerous possibilities with any organised and positioned predominance of any brother in the local assembly.
“Unto God be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus” can only be realised as Christ is expressed, and that is only possible as each member has the “liberty” to function by the Spirit in the gatherings of the saints.