Three Church Government Structures

We just went through our annual business meeting last week.  Many people cannot stand meetings. I do not hate meetings. In fact, I enjoy meetings (when they are productive and result in action).  If the church you attend provides a way to be involved in these meetings, it is a splendid idea to do so.

During our business meeting, I introduced a term into saying it, “congregational” business meeting.  Some were curious about this distinction and asked me.  Churches are typically led in one of three setups. At times, there seems to a fourth perspective on how churches should be led.


In this type of church the pastor, bishop, or priest is the sole decision-making authority in a church. Their power comes from appointment by a higher agency. 


Presbyterian style churches elect elders as their representatives. These co-leaders make the decisions and can not be overturned by the congregations.


The congregational model selects leaders generally to a board for administrative purposes. They may have the power to make decisions, but the congregation can overturn decisions and their will if final.

Charismatic (a possible fourth)

This last group is a hybrid between the Episcopalian and Congregational approaches. A pastoral leader may come to the position by a congregational election but then typically moves to lead the church solely. The distinction is that they typically have a charismatic approach to leadership that fuels decision making and the churches followership

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