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Administration is the act of having charge or managing something. Church administration is the act of governing the body of Christ and making it fulfill its purpose of “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19 – 20 New King James Version). Why the Church It must first be settled that Jesus Christ envisaged a separate organization outside of the Jewish religious setup. He talked of setting up His church in Matthew 16:18 after the great confession by Peter that He is the Son of the Living God. In that instance, He said these of the church: 1. The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it, and 2. The keys of the Kingdom of heaven shall be given to the church. Matthew 16: 18 – 19. In determining an administrative style, it is important to first determine the objectives of the organization. For the church, the major objective is to reconcile all men to God and make them true followers of Christ. We must not fail to also know that the church is to make known to principalities and powers in the heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). Establishment of the Church The church was finally established on the day of Pentecost when the promised Holy Spirit descended on the disciples gathered in the upper room in one accord. On that day following the preaching of Peter and the other eleven (11)
apostles, about three thousand souls were added to them to form the first members of the church. In fact, Jesus Christ established a visible church with no particular pattern of government and administration, but He entrusted the church in the hands of Apostles as authorized teachers and rulers, with two sacred rites of baptism and the Holy Communion to be observed to the end of the world. Aside the administration of the sacraments, the other functions attached to the ministerial office of the Apostles are: 1. The preaching of the gospel 2. Church discipline or the power of the keys. This is the power to open and shut the gates of the Kingdom of heaven, in other words, to declare to the penitent the forgiveness of sins and to the unworthy excommunication in the name and by the authority of Christ 3. The equipping of believers for the work of God. In addition to these and in anticipation of growth challenges, Jesus gave the Apostles the authority to take decisions on His behalf. He told them that “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19 King James Version). The meaning of binding and loosing is that of law making. Therefore, the original rulers of the church or people charged with administering the church are the Apostles. Formation of Administration organs in the church With the daily growth of the church and the attendant problems, the administration of the church (the body of believers), became a Herculean task for the Apostles. Carrying out all the above functions require that more men filled with the Holy Spirit be ordained by the Apostles.
Firstly, with the complain of the Hellenists against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution, “the twelve apostles called the whole group of believers together and said, "It is not right for us to neglect the preaching of God's word in order to handle finances. So then, brothers, choose seven men among you who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and we will put them in charge of this matter. We ourselves, then, will give our full time to prayer and the work of preaching." (Acts 6:2-4 Today English Version) Thus, Stephen, Philip and five other men filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom were selected by the multitude of disciples as the first set of Deacons in the church. They were ordained by the Apostles to be able to carry out their function. We should note that apart from the Deacons, no other office was mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles in the first ten (10) chapters. In the eleventh (11th) chapter, mention was made of Prophets (vs. 24) and Elders (vs. 30). Other offices mentioned in the New Testament concerning the church are Teachers and Evangelist. From Acts of Apostles and the Epistles in the Holy Bible, the offices/functions mentioned for the church aside that of the Apostles are; 1. Deacons 2. Elders 3. Prophets 4. Teachers 5. Evangelists 6. Pastors
The office and role of the Deacons have been mentioned above. For the Elders, it must be noted that the word elder is also the same used as bishops or presbyters. The use of the word bishop in the early church is that of a leading presbyter among others or a senior elder with oversight functions over others. The word elder does not have anything to do with age. This can be seen from 1st epistle of Paul to Timothy chapter 5, where the words ‘elder’ and ‘older man’ were used separately. From numerous usages in the Acts of Apostles and the Epistles, Elders and Apostles were performing the same tasks in Jerusalem. Among the Gentiles, Elders were the rulers of their local churches. However, Elders (operating as bishops) generally replaced the Apostles in importance after all of them had died. The office of elders is that of today’s priests and bishops. Aside the office of the Elders/Presbyters/Bishops and Deacons which are ministerial and carries with it special ordination; the others were rather that of functions and gifts than that of an office. According to Ephesians 4 : 11, Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit “gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (New Living Translation) These gifts are available for every member of the church, as the Holy Spirit gave to all as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). We should note that the Apostles, Elders and Deacons were also gifted with some or all of the other functions. In his letter to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 12 : 28, Paul gave a hierarchy of positions in the church as appointed by God.
“And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues”. (New International Version) From the verse, the order is as follows: 1. Apostles (Elders/Bishops/Presbyters and Deacons as helpers) 2. Prophets 3. Teachers 4. Workers of miracles 5. Other lesser gifts. There is no doubt that some gifts are higher that the other. In Vs. 31, Paul talked of desiring the best gifts. So whoever wish to administer a church, should desire the gift of the Apostle or Elder. Also, all members of the church should desire a gift of the Holy Spirit, so that they can be part of the administration of the church they belong. Positions in the administration of the church is for only those who are filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom, those who are of good repute as stated in Acts of Apostles 6 : 3 However, just like Paul showed the Corinthians a more excellent way of love, we must all use our gifts with love. The leader should exercise his authority with love and the follower should love the leader. It should be know that God places those he has called for leadership in the high positions in His church and He equips them with special gifts of the Holy Spirit. Now a question arises for us in the Anglican Church, are we following this pattern? My answer is yes and no.
Yes in that we give the Bishop his due place as the administrative head of the diocese which represents a local church. There is nothing that can be done in the diocese without the knowledge of the Bishop. All (both clergy and laity) defer to him in almost all matters. No in the sense that in our parishes, the laity regards the Priest (who is representing the Bishop) as a person they can control. To most of us, the Priest should and could not tell us what to do. In fact, the Priest should be at the beck and call of the members of the parish Council and the Baba Ijo (if it exists). For the parish, the Godly pattern for administration is that the Vicar presides over the church and carrying out all the functions stated earlier for the Apostles of old. This he does in the name of the Bishop. He is to be assisted by other ordained men of God in that parish. For the laity, as many as are filled with Holy Spirit are to be involved in the administration of the parish to ensure that the parish carry out its mission of reconciling men to God and make them true followers of God. The Parish Council which is to assist the Vicar in his work should comprise men of repute, filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. The members should be men on fire for God, involved in a ministerial work in the church, winning souls for God. I want to ask, how many of our Parish Council members can either conduct a bible study, talk at a revival, preach at a service or even effectively explain the new birth to an unbeliever? If there is any among them who cannot do any of these, especially explain what it is to have a new birth to an unbeliever; such a person does not deserve to be a member of the council.
Anybody that is involved in the administration of the church (either member or staff) should be a child of God, born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. For the church of God to find its footing again and live up to her purpose, we need to: 1. Really turn to God and uphold righteousness. There is so much celebration of worldliness in the church. We must work tirelessly to remove all forms of worldliness in the church of God 2. We must identify our calling as Christians and follow same with all our mind 3. We must prayerfully replace the composition of our councils to reflect the pattern God intended. Let us bring in more men/women filled with Holy Spirit and let all parts of the church be represented by its leaders in the council. All unfit people heading units in the church should be changed with those whose desire is the expansion of the Kingdom of God. By Revd Dr. Adeolu Olusodo firstname.lastname@example.org www.adeolusodo.blogspot.com 234 – 8080445336, 234 – 1 – 4033785
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