There is a way to deconstruct the institutional hierarchy and other unbiblical "environmental" problems that are so common in Christian churches today. While some churches have decent teachings, more often than not their environment is debilitating to the point where Christians cannot properly carry out what they have learned.
Deconstructing the institutional church can be accomplished by a congregation if most Christians there are set on following the truth. Everyone first needs to realize that the current way most churches are run today is based on an assumption of things nowhere to be found in the Bible. There is not a shred of evidence in the Bible of the kind of leadership structure with the power and control that we see today in most professing Christian churches.
In Bible times every Christian had a voice and the power was with the people under Christ. Elders made sure it stayed that way. Not so today. This has been reversed to where elders / pastors have the power and control and usually make sure that it stays that way.
In Bible times, churches had no secrets and there was no privy knowledge held by a few elite. There were no elite. Elders were truly servants of the people not lords and kings over the people. The few did not make the decisions for the many. This is part of the checks and balances that keep a church healthy. Otherwise one man or a small group of men can turn a church on a dime and take them in any direction that they choose on a whim. It happens all the time. Pastors go to some ungodly pastor's conference, for example, and come back all pumped up and announce to the church that they are now all going to go down a new path (but unbeknown to them an unbiblical path).
Congregations who do not know the truth in this area think that they are helpless and must follow these men right off of a doctrinal cliff. I cannot express to you in the scope of this article the vast amount of problems that having this foundational "leadership thing" wrong causes in every church. The devastation and unavoidable (but sometimes seemingly subtle) abuse is a very serious issue.
Here's the thing. Accidentally and unintentionally for the most part, most Christians see the church through the eyes of the world. So they then assume that the church is supposed to operate similar to or exactly how the world operates. So Christians model church government after how a business or corporation in the world works. Again all this is based on a foolish assumption that "this must be how the original Apostles must have done it". Not so. This is not what the Bible teaches.
Further, Jesus never did anything like the world does. He taught us (directly or through the Apostles) principles that were the exact opposite of what the world believes. For example: "The first shall be last and the last shall be first"; "He who humbles himself shall be exalted"; "God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble"; and many more. So why on earth should we assume that Jesus established the same kind of governmental structure in His church that the world uses? This is a very important point. In fact, we should assume nothing and only go by what the Bible cleary teaches.
Once elders (commonly called pastors) stand before a church and admit that they had the whole church government "thing" wrong, and that they are restoring the power back to the people, a breath of fresh air and such freedom will come over all those of the congregation who know the truth in this area. Of course, there will likely be a number of die-hard "hold outs" who do not want to give up having an earthly king instead of Christ as truly King and Master over them.
Some pastors have left churches because they figured this out but were not allowed (by some board of church directors or something) to implement it. This requires a true dying to self for leaders to step down from this kind of power and control and instead to become facilitators and defenders of a healthy church environment while they continue to uphold other sound doctrine. This also requires a dying to self on the part of the rest of the congregation to allow these men to step down from such a high and lofty position of inappropriate respect and admiration.
Some keys on church authority to think about:
- All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matt 28:18).
- Jesus alone is the Head of the church (John 5:26-27, Eph 1:22-23, Col 1:18).
- God does not permit Christians to have controlling authority over other Christians in the church (see Matt 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45, Luke 22:24-27, 1Pet 5:3, Matt 23:8-12, etc.).
- We do not have multiple special high priests over us. There is only One High Priest, Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 3:1, 4:14).
- We have One Master Christ and we are all brothers (see Matt 23: 8-12).
- You cannot obey two masters; you will love the one and hate the other (Matt 6:24, Luke 6:13). You simply cannot obey Jesus as master and a pastor as master at the same time.