The church is a kingdom over which Christ rules as king (1 Timothy 6:15; John 18:37; John 19:19). Christians are citizens in this kingdom (Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 1:9). The world is the territory of this kingdom (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). The new birth is the way we enter this kingdom (John 3:5).
ONE HEAD, ONE KING—CHRIST
The church is the body of Christ, and Christ is its only head (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4). He has all authority (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:18). He has never given this authority to anyone else. Because Christ is the head, we take our instructions from Him. Because He is king, we must obey Him (Ephesians 5:24).
The church has no earthly headquarters. The headquarters of Christ’s church is in Heaven. Each congregation of the Lord’s body is independent and self-ruling. There is no pope, council, conference, or group of people controlling all the congregations of the Lord’s body.
Elders are to be appointed in every church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). In the New Testament, elders are also called presbyters (1 Timothy 4:14); bishops (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-2); overseers (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2); pastors (Ephesians 4:11,12); and shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-4). The word “pastor” is simply another word for “shepherd.” Preachers are never called pastors in the New Testament. The elders of the local congregation are the pastors (shepherds) of each local church (1 Peter 5:1-4).
Qualifications for elders are listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-13. In addition to being a faithful Christian, an elder must be a man with a wife and faithful children. He cannot be a new member and be qualified. Also, there must be more than one elder serving in the local congregation. The Bible says “elders” (plural) (Acts 14:23; 20:17-18, 28). These elders are to guide, guard, feed, and rule the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17).
Deacons are to be appointed in every church (Philippians 1:1). Their qualifications are listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The work of deacons would include what was done as recorded in Acts 6:1-6. Again, deacons can only be men. Women are not qualified to be deacons because they cannot be a husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:12).
Preachers have the responsibility to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:1-5). As with elders and deacons, preachers are males (1 Timothy 2:8-15). They are evangelists, ministers of the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:5). In the New Testament, preachers are never called by titles such as “Pastor,” “Reverend,” “Doctor,” or “Father” (Matthew 23:8-12).
Anyone who has obeyed the Gospel is a member of the Lord’s church (Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 1:3). Members of the church are to obey the elders (Hebrews 13:17). They are to teach the lost (Acts 8:4; 2 Timothy 2:24-25). They are to practice pure religion (James 1:27). The leadership of the Lord’s church is made up of qualified men. If a church does not have this kind of organization, it cannot be the church that Jesus built. Christ is the head only of the church which has a Scriptural organization. If the church of which you are a member has women elders, women deacons, or women preachers, that church cannot be the church Jesus built. Why not leave manmade churches and become a part of the church of Christ?