NT Church - There is no division between clergy and laity.

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Pet. 4:10). So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another (Rom. 12:5). But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ (1 Cor. 12:11,12). There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling....But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Eph. 4:4,7).

As we examine the above verses, and then look at the Christian churches about us today, the honest soul is exceedingly troubled. Through the centuries, man has divided the church into two distinct classes: clergy and laity. Is there really Scriptural authority for such a division? One searches in vain for such evidence in the Holy Scriptures. Instead one finds that we are all members of the body of Christ and no one holds a position that would make him the head over the rest of the body. Christ alone is the Head of the Church and no man can even be an earthly representative of this position which belongs only to Christ. Our Head is invisible and He sovereignly controls the church through the working of the Holy Spirit. The seeking soul is also troubled when he discovers that this man–made clergy is actually ordained and trained by institutions that have been established by man. As we examine the New Testament, we discover that God gives the gifts to the church as He will and man has entered into God’s sovereign territory when he appoints and formally trains his own leaders. Man has made the stewards of the church, the body of Christ, into a paid profession, which is chosen as a job career for those so inclined to go that way.

As we honestly examine the above verses and the chapters in which they are contained, we must come to the definite conclusion that this division of the body of Christ could not have existed in the early church of the New Testament.

A distinguishing characteristic of a true new testament church is that there is no division between clergy and laity. This would mean that within the church there cannot be a leader with the title of Reverend, Pastor, Minister, Bishop, Elder or any other title. As soon as anyone is given this place, he holds the position of the head of the body and we are all equally members of the same body.

Obviously, this leads to an important question. Does this mean that the local church has no earthly leadership? In 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, we have listed the qualifications of elders, shepherds, or overseers of the local church. They are always mentioned in the plural and there is absolutely no indication that they received specialized training in institutions for this position. "And from Miletus he (Paul) sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church" (Acts 20:17). The New Testament local church had a plurality of elders, not one single man. These men served the church; they were not lords of the church. They sought to lead, feed, and protect the sheep. They were to be obeyed as spiritual leaders ought to be, but they never took the position of a singular head over one congregation.

The questions then to be asked in looking for a New Testament church are: Is there one person with a title and salary directing the church or is there a plurality of elders leading and guiding the church? Is there an absence of leadership displaced by majority consensus without the guidance of spiritually exercised men?

No leadership is without Scriptural warranty just as is one-man leadership. Sometimes to avoid one extreme, a church may go to another extreme. "Obey them (plural) that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you" (Heb. 13:17).