John Alley has just published another excellent book in his reflections on the continuing reformation of the church. He has long argued for a relational form of christianity with all of the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11 being recognised by congregations.
In this book, John tackles the difficult subject of city eldership. The New Testament description of the church is very different to what we see now. Rather than a dozen or more congregations each claiming to be “the church” in a town or region with each having very little contact with the others, the Bible talks about a single church in one place. That is not a single congregation, but a connection of congregations all seeing themselves as relating to each other and led by a number of elders who have authority over all congregations.
At the moment, most christians experience a hierarchy of connectedness which points away from the local context to a denominational office which may be in a distant city. Leaders are appointed or elected to offices regardless of the equipping of the Holy Spirit. A better way is to have true fellowship with christians across the denominational barriers with God-appointed elders offering guidance and direction to congregations.
This is a radical blueprint that calls the church back to its early roots. It will take time, perhaps several generations, to overcome our denominational history but this is the work of God, not mere men.