Leadership in #ChurchWorld comes in all varieties. Some of the variety depends on the style of hierarchical governance structure the group was birthed under. There are three standard kinds of church governance. They are: Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Congregational.

Episcopalian: Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, and some Lutheran.

This form of government may be the oldest going back to Ignatius of Antioch (50-110). In his writings, he stressed that governance of the church was one bishop in each city who was assisted by presbyters and deacons.

Presbyterian: Presbyterian, Reformed often called elder-led church.

This form of government suggests that the authority in a church resides at the local elder level. Elders are usually elected by a congregation for a specific amount of time. These elected elders serve as the theological, moral, spiritual, and visionary leaders of their congregation. A pastor in this governmental system is one of the elders who has no special authority except because of his or her training is often seen as the expert in the spiritual and theological life of the congregation.

Congregational: Baptistic, Pentecostal-Charismatic, Congregational, Lutheran, Independent.

This form of governance rests in the autonomy and independence of a church. It comes in several varieties. The most popular seems to be the sole pastor led church. In this form the sole pastor is the primary leader and functions as the decision maker. The sole pastor is usually the founder of the church or has been appointed by the previous sole pastor, i.e., often the original church planter. This form uses as its support a view with a reading of Scripture that views a general pattern in the Old and New Testament with sole leaders, i.e., Moses, James, the brother of Jesus, and the pattern of the early church who had leaders like John Chrysostom and Augustine, all probably influenced by the synagogue model. I have written about this here.

A second kind of polity under this form is a democratic congregation. This form elects a board of directors who are invested with the decisions of the church. Sometimes there is a sole pastor mixture who works with an elder or deacon board for decision making. These pastors are usually CEOs of their organization tasked with the day to day running of the church.

A third way of the congregational polity is a plurality of elders who make the decisions for the congregation as they meet together.

I think George Ladd sums it up best in his book: A Theology of the New Testament when he says: “It appears likely that there was no normative pattern of church government in the apostolic age, and that the organizational structure of the church is no essential element in the theology of the church” (579).

What Kind Do You Live Under?

Why?

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Metaphors Bring Life to Reading

by drwinn on March 23, 2015

We tend to take the words on a page with literalness when we read. Having taught Bible as Literature for many years in Southern California, I know this to be true. In one of my early classes, I began by holding the Bible and asking: “What is this?” As you can imagine, I received all kinds of answers: Scripture, the Bible, the Word of God, and the Sword of the Spirit among others. On that occasion, one lady responded that she didn’t trust the words of the Bible.

I asked, “Which ones?”

She responded, “The ones in black, I only believe the ones in red.”

I inquired further. “Why only the red words?”

She simply replied, “Because, the red words are the words of Jesus.” [click to continue…]

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Introduction

To understand the idea of gracelets 1 in the writings of Paul, it is helpful to understand his view of leadership in his letters. Thus, we will examine the long-lasting hypothesis, which a lot of ink has been spilled on, that suggests that the church has a hierarchical structure. Here are some questions we could consider.

  • How did this idea originate?
  • Did it come from the writings of Paul?
  • Was it early catholic theology attributed to the books of 1 and 2 Timothy?
  • Was it a Hebrew thought form or was it a Greek thought form in its origin?
  • Is it possible that the Western mindset, with its need for specificity and reductionism, has taken what the early church saw as function and turned it into specific categories or offices?

The following is a synopsis on the subject of hierarchical structure in Scripture. [click to continue…]

Notes:

  1. Gracelets is the word that I am using for the so-called spiritual gifts.

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Leadership in the Church: So What?

by drwinn on March 9, 2015

Paul’s writings reflect his belief that the church was a charismatic community. His concept of church was that of continued ministry at the direction of the Spirit to serve each other by being available to God for him to send gracelets for the common good of the community. It does not appear that Paul had a concept of a hierarchy of offices. 1 He conceives of authority in dynamic terms, not in terms of an office or a fixed form. The whole of the community had authority to order its worship and affairs. First Corinthians 14.26 may give us the guidelines for both worship and community affairs.

The issue to solve is gift-function or office-hierarchy. It is clear to me that there should not be a hierarchical structure in the church. Even the Trinity is a dance. The life of the church is carried to the church by the Spirit. It is true that corruption came through the institutionalization of the church. However, the church has to have some form in which to exist. What we should do is examine again the form of the Pauline charismatic church and see if we can function as it did. There will always be friction between freedom and form, but according to Genesis 1 real freedom only comes within the boundaries of form. There are certainly no clear or easy answers to this ongoing problem.

Notes:

  1. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit, 297-298.

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Leadership in the Church: Some Objections

March 9, 2015

The Twelve Apostles Were Unique Why is this important? It appears that this teaching is set forth with a desire to ensure a safe ground within the history of the church for these twelve individuals who participated in things that no others have or will have access for participation. It is true that there is […]

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Leadership in the Church: The Second Testament View

March 9, 2015

The Second Testament To summarize this idea, the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system in which the First Testament operated was replaced by the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus is seen as the high priest (Romans 3.25, Hebrews). The incarnation identified Jesus with humankind (Heb. 2.14-18; 4.15; 5.1, 7-10). He mediates the new covenant […]

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You name it, someone is hawking it!

March 2, 2015

Let me begin by sharing that the following information is partly theological speculation. No one has the “whole” truth on any subject (See Roger Olson’s Theology and Speculation on Pathos). My friend Ed Cook suggests: Dogma is what MUST be believed to be considered a Christian. I doubt that their are more than 4 or […]

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Leadership in the Church: Office or Function | Introduction

March 1, 2015

Introduction The overall series of articles is the content of a chapter in a present book that I am working on with the working title: Gracelets: Delivering God’s Extravagant Acts of Grace to Others. Its focus is on an interpretative key that may help understand the split-level operation of the present church in its institutional […]

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