The Forum

The Forum


Dear Brethren:

Is it proper in an assembly of normal size for one brother to assume practically all responsibility? We mean by that, for one man to act as trustee of the property, correspondent, treasurer, Bible Class leader, etc. and to participate in almost every other activity of the assembly?


Dear Brother G.

In making an answer to the question in The Forum, this is what I have learnt from the Word and our experience. Not if there are other brethren morally and spiritually suitable in the same assembly, and capable of sharing the responsibilities involved.

Gifts differ, and it is well and desirable that ministry should be shared and responsibility assigned in accordance with spiritual gifts and character.

Often the gracious retirement of elderly brethren who have held office, done service, and exercised their gift over a long period, is beneficial to the assembly. The delegation of responsibility to younger men to take their place should be kept in mind constantly.

I trust this reply may prove helpful.

With cordial Christian love,

Yours sincerely in Christ,
A. N.

At the beginning the churches had the apostles to give wise counsel, spiritual guidance, and shepherd care, but God did not reveal any means for the perpetuating of their office. He removed the men, ended their office, but left to the Church their inspired writings. In their stead He raised up elders and deacons. As Mr. William Kelly suggests, “Although the Apostle was not at Philippi, they had the bishops and the deacons, not a bishop and several deacons, and still less bishops and presbyters (or, priests) and deacons, but several of the higher spiritual guides, as well as the lower.”

In Paul’s address to that local church his greeting is, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and the deacons.” His greeting is not to the leaders of the church, the overseers, and then to the assembly, but to the entire assembly. Obviously Paul considered the spiritual guides as part of the whole, but not superior to or higher than the church herself.

Spiritual guides should be in the plural number in each assembly. It was definitely thus in Philippi, the church to which reference has been made. It was thus among the churches of Galatia (Acts 14:23), and at Ephesus (Acts 20:28). This was likewise true among the Hebrews (Heb. 13:17).

The only instance recorded in the New Testament where one man assumed a major, if not the entire responsibility in church administration is found in 3 John. The account is not a very complimentary one. No one would be envious of the reputation of Diotrephes.

It is well to bear in mind the principles established in the Scriptures for they present to us the ideal. In a very small assembly where, at times, one brother must administer most of the assembly affairs, every opportunity of sharing responsibility with another will be appreciated. As young men develop and manifest the necessary qualifications, their assistance should be welcomed.

The world humorously states, “The committee of one gets the matter done,” but in the things of the Lord the ultimate is accomplished by the proper functioning of the respective gifts.