4:37 PM From The Jesus Paradigm:
The New Testament presents a clear picture of how the early Christians viewed themselves. They understood each church to be an extended family (an institutionalized church was unimaginable) that practiced plural leadership. This eldership was non-hierarchical (each elder was equal in authority to all the other elders) and arose from within those churches the elders would lead. Because the Lord Jesus is the head of the church (Col. 1:18), the elders led by example, not by “lording it over” the church (1 Pet. 5:2). The elders’ authority lay solely in their ability to “persuade” with the truth of the Word of God (see the use of peitho, “persuade,” in Heb. 13:17).