The educational influence upon the whole church of this election of pastors and deacons, choosing of delegates, admission and exclusion of members, management of church finance and general conduct of business, carrying on of missionary operations and raising of contributions together with responsibility for correct doctrine and practice, cannot be overestimated. The whole body can know those who apply for admission better than pastors or elders can. To put the whole government of the church into the hands of a few is to deprive the membership of one great means of Christian training and progress. Hence the pastor?s duty is to develop the self-government of the church. The missionary should not command but he should advise. That minister is most successful who gets the whole body to move and who renders the church independent of himself. The test of his work is not while he is with them but after he leaves them. Then it can be seen whether he has taught them to follow him or to follow Christ, whether he has led them to the formation of habits of independent Christian activity or whether he has made them passively dependent upon himself.
It should be the ambition of the pastor not ?to run the church,? but to teach the church intelligently and in a Scriptural manner to manage its own affairs. The word ?minister? means not master, but servant. The true pastor inspires but he does not drive. He is like the trusty mountain guide who carries a load thrice as heavy as that of the man he serves, who leads in safe paths and points out dangers but who neither shouts nor compels obedience. The individual Christian should be taught to realize the privilege of church membership, to fit himself to use his privilege, to exercise his rights as a church member, to glory in the New Testament system of church government and to defend and propagate it.
A Christian pastor can either rule or he can have the reputation of ruling but he can not do both. Real ruling involves a sinking of self, a working through others, a doing of nothing that some one else can be got to do. The reputation of ruling leads sooner or later to the loss of real influence and to the decline of the activities of the church itself. See Coleman, Manual of Prelacy and Ritualism, 87-125; and on the advantages of Congregationalism over every other form of church polity, see Dexter, Congregationalism, 236-296. Dexter, 290, note, quotes from Belcher?s Religious Denominations of the U. S., 184, as follows: ?Jefferson said that he considered Baptist church government the only form of pure democracy, which then existed in the world and had concluded that it would be the best plan of government for the American Colonies. This was eight or ten years before the American Revolution.? On Baptist
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