KINGSTON TWP. - In a modest room above an insurance company, with a take-out sushi restaurant next door, 20 people meet Sunday to worship God.
The River of Life at Kingdom of Power Ministries, holds Sunday services in an office building on Route 309 in Shavertown. The fellowship is one of a handful of independent churches operating in the Wyoming Valley.
Some of the churches have bypassed the traditional church building, choosing instead to meet in store fronts or homes. The River of Life church and another in Tunkhannock meet in storefronts, and a church recently formed in Lehman Township has services in the pastor's home.
Church leaders say an independent fellowship gives them the freedom to try new programs. Parishioners are attracted to the conservative interpretation of the Bible and the fellowship of a smaller congregation, church leaders said.
Jim, my point was merely--as your link likely verifies--that the Biblical witness does not compel one form of church government. I'd argue that it argues against episcopal church government, though, as Paul uses "elder" and "overseer" interchangeably in his letter to Titus.
Even so, I am inferring a conclusion, not quoting Hezekiah 4:10 "And you shall elect one head pastor as a congregation" or Obfuscations 3:11 "And you shall have a collection of elders to rule your church."
See what I'm getting at here? It's inferred, not absolute.
I'd also point out that any system eventually boils down to what the congregation will accept. Ten godly elders don't change things when 1000 ungodly congregants aren't willing to put up with sound doctrine. The PCUSA/CPUSA and ELCA are good examples of presbyterian church government gone wrong.
Walt, the Proverbs citation comes about 800 years before the birth of the church, and the 2 John citation refers not to church polity, but to the "doctrine of Christ." The same goes for the Timothy & Thessalonians passages; they're not referring to church polity.
Besides, how do we establish who is the true church authority? I seem to remember some really bloody wars being fought over this--and generally between two sides which shared one thing in common; major theological error.
I'll grant you that there are certainly some advantages to a presbyterian form of church government, though I tend to congregational church polity personally. However, doctrines of church polity are generally inferred from Scripture or derived from tradition. They are not given point blank.
I'm not going to be overly popular (as usual) with these comments, but I might suggest you look into the doctrine of form of church government and occasional hearing.
There are some sermons on this site that will explain what is occasional hearing.
"If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2Jn.10,11).
"Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge" (Prov.19:27).
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Rom.16:17).
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the the tradition which he received of us" (2Thess.3:6).
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness . . . from such withdraw thyself" (1Tim.6:3,5).
That's good Peter. No single minister and no-one on a wage? Kind of radical isn't it? Hmm.... in fact it even seems to be scriptural - in stark contrast to the apostate institutional church groups we see everywhere.
I don't like the term 'independant' though; much prefer 'dependant'....
I am currently teaching in a small independant Church. We were dissapointed with the direction of the Union of the denomination and rather than make up our own rules and let everything go without any order or direction from the word of God, as some of these groups have, we have based our services and teachings on the LBCF 1689 and the descriptions and directions given in the Acts and letters of the NT. Acts 2:42, Matthew 28:19-20, and similar directions to the early disciples and their Churches are used. We get a lot of teaching from the works of the Puritans and Reformers, but the Holy Spirit also teaches us as we read and meditate on the scriptures and the teaching of our elders who have been raised up by the Spirit and given the gifts of teaching and every other gift that His Church has need of. The building we use is not important. We used to meet from house to house, but have since been offered the use of an old church building that was unused and needed looking after. If our group grows too big for it then we will either split up or moe to a school or community hall. We have no collections because the famine in Jerusalem has passed, but if such a need were to come to our attention then we would have no problem in supporting it. We encourage personal support for each need.