Interesting question this evening as the topic of conversation… concerning what authority is held by church leaders, what it looks like, how it operates, and if it’s actually valid. In this context, a favorite passage came to mind as being quite instructive:
Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him. [John 13:3-5]
The challenge is to determine the place of leadership and authority (if any) in a non-heirarchical structure for church. I’m hard-pressed to think of a passage in the New Testament that clearly and unambiguously gives chuch leaders authority over other believers.
If one does contend that chuch leaders have authority over other believers, should it not look the way Jesus demonstrated it? Can a church leader have authority over anyone they’re not serving (i.e., figuratively washing the feet of)? Or is the question moot?