Question 1: If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey?
First, if there is no biblical requirement to belong a local church, then which leaders should an individual Christian obey and submit to?
This begs the question, if there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey? Is the submission to anyone with the title “elder” or "pastor" from any church? Should we as Christians obey and submit to those very special people at Westboro Baptist Church? Fun stuff to think about there.
Besides Heb. 13:17 there's also the passage in 1 Tim. 5... Elders who rule well. Who are they? I would submit it is those who labor in preaching and teaching in the local church.
1 Tim. 5:17
17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
Full context 1 Timothy 5...
Second, who will a pastor/bishop/elder give an account for? Elders should not lead under compulsion but willingly under the direction of the Holy Spirit, not for shameful gain but eagerly loving people, not be domineering but being examples of Christ's love. This is to be done in waiting for the Chief Shepherd - Jesus Christ.
And those of us who are younger are to be subject to the elders. How does that work out? Respecting the positional and spiritual authority God places in our lives - having humility. Something at least for me is really tough. Maybe for others it isn't?
1 Peter 5:1-5
1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
All of 1 Peter 5 in context...
Then also there's those fierce wolves who would come in and rise amongst the Body speaking twisted things... Will they have to give an account?
29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Acts 20 in context...
Third, so I believe that the elders at the local church I'm a member of are responsible for those who attend our church. They're NOT responsible for everyone in the city, county, state or country. But they are responsible for those God has entrusted to their care. Does this make sense from a Biblical standpoint?