Men Do Not Own Churches
W. E. Vine
The churches are His by right of His redemptive work on the Cross and by the operation of the Holy Spirit. They are not the property or possession of any ecclesiastical organization or religious body or society or denomination. As we have already observed, the Word of God knows nothing of such organizations or associations of churches in any shape or form; its testimony is distinctly against the formation of any such federation or combination with earthly headquarters. Each church, as the property of Christ, is designed to acknowledge His authority as its Lord (I Cor. 12:5).
Nor again does any local church belong to those who, as its spiritual guides, elders or bishops (see, e.g., Acts 20, verse 17 with verse 28, R.V., Phil. 1:1, etc.), are appointed by the Spirit of God to exercise oversight and to take care of it (I Tim. 3:5). They are the Lord's servants, answerable to Him for the discharge of their functions in tending the flock under their care, which they are to regard as His. The local church in which they are bishops or elders is spoken of, not as "their flock," but as "God's flock" (I Pet. v. 2).
excerpt from the beginning of chapter 15 of The Church and the Churches, by W. E. Vine