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Well Ordered, Living Well: A Field Guide to Presbyterian Church Government (Waters)

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Why does church government matter? In this book, Guy Prentiss Waters offers a brief and accessible introduction to presbyterianism that shows how a well-ordered church fosters Christian lives lived well. In making the case that church government is critical to Christian discipleship, Waters presents an overview of the nature of the church (the body and its member) and its structures of authority (officers, assemblies, and ordination). He concludes by answering common questions people raise about church government. The book is an ideal resource for explaining the relevance of church government to the ordinary Christian’s life and service.

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Table of Contents:

1. Why Does Church Government Matter?

2. What Makes a Church?

3. How Is the Church Led?

4. But What about…?

5. Where Do We Go from Here?

Further Reading

Appendix 1: Membership Commitments

Appendix 2: Presbyterian Church Polity and the Church Order of Dort

About the Author

Guy Prentiss Waters (PhD, Duke University) is the James M. Baird Jr. Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary and was formerly an associate professor of biblical studies at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. He is also the author of How Jesus Runs the Church.


“Acknowledging that the biblical doctrine of church government is a secondary doctrine does not mean it is unimportant, since all scriptural doctrines are important. Knowing that one does not have to get the doctrine of church government correct to be saved does not mean that the doctrine is unimportant for the saved. The church’s ability to fulfill its mission, stay faithful to its message with longevity and integrity, and engage in its ministries with efficacy is directly related to how the church is led. How the church is led is dependent on the structure of its government lining up with biblical principles. Biblical church government is crucial for pastors in shepherding their flock and to encourage the people of God to be submissive to the Word of God, those who lead them, and to one another. This biblical, faithful, and accessible volume written for all Christians is more than useful and commendable—it is vital.” — Harry L. Reeder III, pastor/teacher, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama