There are few that question the fact that the Lord desires that there be a recognized position of authority in the church.
But who should that authority be in the church?
Does the authority in the church rest in the congregation? Though this is a very popular view it does not appear to be the pattern in the New Testament. The congregation is clearly told to be in subjection to their leaders in Hebrews 13:17. How could a congregation be the ultimate authority within the church and yet at the same time be in subjection to their leaders? Is there any basis at all in the New Testament for what is commonly referred to as "congregational rule?" Some would use Acts 6 to show that the seven men were selected by the congregation at Jerusalem. Yet in Acts 6 we see congregational participation under the direction and the authority of the apostles.
Does the authority in the church rest in "the pastor?" Though again we see this type of government being practiced in many churches there is little basis for a church being led by one person in God's Word. In Hebrews 13:17 the congregation is commanded to be in subjection to their "leaders" not "leader." There is no clear passage in the New Testament that refers to one man being the leader.
There obviously is a time at the birth of a congregation where a single man may have been handling the full responsibility for the oversight of the church but this condition biblically would be looked at as temporary until a group of men could be given oversight. This is what happened with Titus in the churches on Crete ( Titus 1:5). Titus was instructed by Paul to appoint elders. It was the responsibility of the elders to oversee the churches that had been established by Paul.
The fact that a group of men were involved in the oversight of each individual church can be demonstrated in a number of ways.
When Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem to settle a dispute of doctrine they went up to the apostles and elders (plural) of the church (singular) in Acts 15:1-5.
When Paul and Barnabas finished their first missionary journey they appointed elders (plural) in every church (singular) in Acts 14:23.
When Paul was on his way to Jerusalem and wanted to challenge the leadership of the church at Ephesus he called for the elders in Acts 20:17-35. Paul's words to Timothy regarding the church in 1 Timothy 5:17 adds support for a plurality of elders over the church.
In James 5:14 the elders (plural) of the church (singular) are to be called.
In 1 Peter 5:1-2 the elders (plural) are exhorted to shepherd the flock (singular).
We have therefore seen that the authority in the church of the New Testament did not rest in the congregation or in a man but in a group of men who were commonly referred to as elders.