The "Regulative Principle" in church government
The sheer diversity in today's church government - papal, episcopal, presbyterial, democratic, and even non-government (Brethren, Quakers) - testify how important the Regulative Principle must be adhered to, strictly and uncompromisingly. As soon as the church departs from this principle, confusion follows in its wake. When, on the other hand, this principle is followed, the result is an evident unity in doctrine and church life, which is well-pleasing to God and healthy for his people.
The Regulative Principle states that what the Bible commands is to be adopted and practiced; what is not commanded is to be rejected and a ban placed upon it. The Reformed branch of Christendom has been and still is the most consistent of all denominations in the application of this principle.
This principle forbids Christians from introducing anything in the worship of God, in church government or any other area of spirituality, anything that is not directly and explicitly commanded in the Scripture. Thus pragmatism and any other consideration is excluded when it comes to ordering the church in its leadership and administration.
In church government, then, we are to seek for a pattern set out already in Scripture by the Holy Spirit, so that Christ's redeemed people may be properly and advantageously led. This does not imply that it is always easy to arrive at this said pattern, but by study and serious application of the Scripture, I believe wholeheartedly (laying aside all prejudice and ill-conceived thoughts) that this pattern may be discovered and applied today.
God has one methodology today in the government of his militant church: his way is delineated for us in His Word. There is no other, and we are not at liberty to invent or adopt new ways and means for church government. Only that one is pleasing to Him.
The pattern I see is as follows: every church should ideally be led by an eldership with no distinction among them as to authority, though they may, obviously, differ in the measure of their giftedness. Pastors, elders, presbyters, bishops, governors, are all biblical terms to describe church leaders, used interchangeably.