Until elders are put in place, the task of missions is incomplete and the church is out of order.
Paul was a pioneer missionary. It was his “ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest [he] build on someone else’s foundation (Romans 15:20).” Paul was fulfilling the Great Commission by going to “all nations.” Evangelism does not complete the task of missions. Church planting does not complete the task of missions. Paul’s normal pattern for missions was to install elders in every church (Acts 14:23). Until this is done, things are out of order. Our call is not to garner professions, but to make disciples. Disciples that we teach to observe all things, whatever Christ has commanded. Biblical church government is one of those things. There is no way to soften it, until a church is led by a plurality of elders, she is disobedient. And disobedience always brings disorder. It turns new creation into chaos.
Sure, every church is sinful, but no church has an excuse to remain that way. Yes, the gospel is chief, but this is not to say that church government is inconsequential. When the toe hurts the body hurts (1 Corinthians 12:26). How much more does the body hurt when the eyes, or the mouth, or the ears are out of wack? Don’t think your obeying the command to not despise the lesser members of the body by denying the cruciality of the leader-members.
In the church car, government may not be the motor, but perhaps it’s the frame. No matter how sound the engine may be at the time, a whompyjawed church government means this car is going to wobble. Sure you can ignore problems in the frame longer than a plume of smoke coming from the hood, but to think that you can ignore the frame altogether isn’t wise. Something has to hold that motor in place. No frame, no order, only chaos.