When one uses the term “a congregational church”, it amazes me how many different things that can mean to the speaker. Also, it is discouraging to me how much a person’s understanding of “congregationalism” is not derived from the Word of God at all or from the leading of the Holy Spirit, but rather from tradition, Americanism, and culture. It is helpful to me if I breakdown the essence of congregationalism into two key aspects:
The First Aspect of Congregationalism--Autonomy:
First, the word Congregationalism means that each local church is autonomous , and not subject to oversight by or accountability to any other higher human authority structure in the Visible Church. Of course, this concept of autonomy does not mean that the local church is not directly accountable to the authority of the Lord as He leads His church through Word and Spirit. We are autonomous not from our King Jesus but from other church authority.