Updated: Mar 9
Ecclesiology pertains to the study of the church and encompasses various facets such as its intent, church membership, and how we are to carry out the ordinances. This doctrine is significant as it reflects the assignment entrusted to us by God during our time on earth. Although certain aspects of ecclesiology may not have a direct impact on one's justification, adhering to God's instructions as His church can have significant ramifications for both the world today, and the world to come.
Church Membership is a covenantal agreement between a local church and a baptized Christian with a credible profession of faith, wherein this individual agrees to submit themselves to the oversight of the body of the church and its elders for the purpose of discipleship, and the body and elders agree to hold this individual accountable to living a life of a Christian as defined in scripture alone.
Ordinances: Ceremonial rites or practices that have been instituted by Christ and are to be carried out by the Church as a symbol of faith and obedience. The two ordinances practiced in the Evangelical Church are Baptism, and The Lord's Supper. Other Marks of the Church would include the Public Reading of Scripture, Preaching & Teaching the Word, Prayer, and Singing.
Pastor / Elder / Deacon Requirements: Scripture is clear in qualifying those who are eligible for the offices in a local church, they must be:
- Above reproach: An elder must be a person of impeccable character, with a good reputation both inside and outside the church.
- Husband of one wife: An elder must be a faithful and committed husband who is devoted to his wife and family.
- Temperate: An elder must have self-control and be sober-minded.
- Self-controlled: An elder must exercise self-discipline in all areas of life.
- Respectable: An elder must be a person of dignity and honor.
- Hospitable: An elder must be willing to welcome and serve others, including strangers.
- Able to teach: An elder must be knowledgeable in the Scriptures and able to teach and explain them to others.
- Not a drunkard: An elder must refrain from excessive drinking and other forms of substance abuse.
- Not violent but gentle: An elder must be able and not prone to vein quarrels or vein disputes.
- Not quarrelsome: An elder must be a peacemaker and not prone to arguments or conflict.
- Not a lover of money: An elder must not be greedy or materialistic.
- Manage his own household well: An elder must be a responsible and loving leader in his own family.
(Scriptural Support: 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9)
The primary purpose of studying matters of ecclesiology is to gain a biblical understanding of the framework that defines the nature and role of the Church. A proper understanding of scriptural teachings on ecclesiology provides a foundation for discerning the difference between a good church, which consistently upholds the values and precepts of God's Word, and a bad church, which may resort to tactics such as emotional manipulation or other methods that are inconsistent with biblical principles. As a member of a local church, you entrust yourself, your spouse, and your children to the guidance and instruction of the church. It's critically important that the leadership seeks to steer its members path towards that of Christ, as any deviation may lead to erroneous beliefs and affirmation of a false gospel.
In summary, the New Testament emphasizes the essential role of Christ as the foundation of the church, the importance of biblical teaching, qualified leadership, communal worship, and mutual service in building up the body of Christ. These principles serve as an anchor for proper ecclesiology and offer guidance for churches seeking to remain faithful to Christ's design for His church.
The Church: An Introduction by Gregg Allison
Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology by John S. Hammett
The Story of Christianity, Vol 1 by Justo L. Gonzalez
The Story of Christianity, Vol 2 by Justo L. Gonzalez