The Apostolic Congregation
In 1st Corinthians [the definitive book on “the body” of Christ] 14:26-32, Paul establishes the model of congregational meetings, where he begins by saying, “What is the outcome then, brethren? Whenever you assemble…?” He is saying, “This is the model whenever the body comes together,” and it is far cry from what we witness in modern-day temple worship where the few up on stage do all engaging while the many in the pews practice “spiritual distancing” from their personal responsibilities to mature. Paul goes on to command that each person is to bring a testimony of what God is doing in their lives, and to contribute to the dialogue. He instructs that every member present is engaged, either to teach or to pass judgment [discern, comment, etc.] on the teaching. Why? “So that all may learn, and all may be exhorted.”
Though the word, “Pastor,” is used only one time in all Scripture, they have become the gods of modern Christendom. The apostolic church was never to be led by one individual, but rather overseen by elders [a term used over 30 times]. Jesus and Paul both gave us a model of servant-leadership. Likewise, elders were present to oversee the fellowship and discussion, never about themselves, and churches were in homes where discussion was encouraged, not temples where leadership reigned supreme and the common man’s voice muted.
In Lighthouse Communities we follow this apostolic model, because in community it is about building up and maturing the flock so they “might all become teachers,” rather than remaining “babes” (Heb. 5) which is where our current model leaves them. Paul also said when one member rejoices the whole body rejoices, and when one member suffers the whole body suffers. Community requires overseers pulling for the body, not individuals lording over the body and this is the way all members come to “rejoice!”