Jonathan Leeman’s, Don’t Fire Your Church Members (an outline)

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I’ve recently finished reading Jonathan Leeman’s defense of congregationalism. I believe it is the single best resource on the issue today. I highly recommend the work.

Jonathan Leeman, Don’t Fire Your Church Members: The Case for Congregationalism.   Nashville: B&H Academic, 2016. ISBN: 978-1433686238 $19.36 208 pages


  • Not Just Decision Making, But Work
  • Who Really Promotes Individualism?
  • Firing Church Members
  • Elder Leadership
  • Challenge 1: The Inevitability of Congregationalism and Blessed Inconsistencies
  • Challenge 2: The Odd Case of Multi-Site Churches
  • Challenge 3: Erroneous Views of Congregationalism
  • Challenge 4: Lopsided Understandings of Government
  • Challenge 5: Biblical Norms and Polity
  • Church Order and the Gospel Faith
  • The Plan

Chapter 1: Who’s in Charge of What Around Here?

  • What is an Institution?
  • Five Rules for an Institutional Hermeneutic:
  • Conclusion

Chapter 2: A Covenantal Job Assignment

  • Adam’s Office Assignment
  • Abraham and a Reassignment of Adam’s Office
  • Moses, David, and the Implementation of Adam’s Office
  • The New Covenant and the Promise of Adam’s Office
  • Jesus and the Fulfillment of Adam’s Office
  • The Church and Re-commissioning of Adam’s Office
  • Congregationalism by Covenantal Trajectory

Chapter 3: The Keys to Office

  • The Keys to the Office
  • Another Proposal for Combining Elder and Congregational Authority
  • Something More than The New Covenant Promises?
  • Who Represents Heaven on Earth?
  • Declaring What and a Who
  • Judicial Declarations as Jurisdictional, Legal, Epistemological, Interpretive Speech
  • The Ordinances
  • Conclusion

Chapter 4: How Jesus Gives a Job to the Whole Church

  • How Jesus Gives a Job to the Whole Church
  • A Glimpse of Church History
  • A Glimpse of Historical Backgrounds
  • To Whom Does Jesus Gives the Keys?
  • Looking for Authorizations
  • Matthew 18:18: Congregational Possession of the Keys
  • Matthew 18:19–20: The Gathered Church as the Basic Unit of Kingdom Authority
  • Matthew 18 and the Congregation’s Priestly Authority
  • Matthew 28 and the Congregation’s Kingly Authority
  • Looking for Examples and Precedents
  • The Congregation’s Jurisdiction
  • Keeping Authority Tied to the Gathering
  • Conclusion

Chapter 5: How the Holy Spirit Establishes Overseers

  • Jurisdiction
  • Disposition
  • Looking for Authorizations, Examples, and Precedents
  • The Authority of an Office
  • The Authority to Teach
  • Complementarian Leadership
  • The Abuse of Authority
  • Leading the Church in Its Decision Making
  • The Authority to Rule
  • Elder Leadership + Congregational Rule = Discipleship
  • The Exercise of Submission and Trusting Another’s Judgment
  • Conclusion

Chapter 6: Working with Other Congregations

  • Acts 15
  • Building as Scripture or as an Act of the Keys
  • Independence and Interdependence
  • A Better Appreciation of Family Ties
  • Separate Churches Share the Same Christ
  • Separate Churches Share the Same Confession
  • Separate Churches Share the Same Commission
  • Conclusion

Chapter 7: Getting to Work

  • What is a Gospel Culture?
  • What Are the Necessary Kingdom Structures
  • Right Preaching
  • A Right Administration of the Ordinances
  • The Kingdom Gain of Congregationalism

Appendix 1: Quick Answers to Critiques of Elder-Led Congregationalism

Appendix 2: Sample Members’ Meeting Agenda





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