The church is anything but apolitical. We can act like it is all we want; that won’t change the facts.
Most church systems are as complicated as our local government. We have elders, deacons, pastors, board members, committees, sub-committees, small groups, discipleship groups, and youth groups—and that’s not the end of the list. We’re not sure who is in charge of what, or whom we should direct our questions to—outside of the senior pastor, of course. So the senior pastor remains distracted. The staff remains unfocused. And most people aren’t sure what those men called elders actually do outside of meet behind closed doors.
Order is good. Government is good; bureaucracy is not. Confusion will destroy us. I suggest a change.
We need to reinitiate Paul’s model for running the church. I think we can do so within the parameters that our government has set up for us. We can meet legal requirements and Paul’s requirements at the same time.
I serve as the board president of a church plant here in Bellingham. And we’ve been subtly experimenting with this idea—more by the leading of the Spirit than intentionality. That’s exactly the way I think church business should be done. We should be intentional about letting the Spirit do His job. Acting according to the Spirit’s plans should be our goal. Business is something we do out of necessity; the Spirit’s work is something we do because we are called to it.
Paul says: “Now you [all] are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kind of tongues” (1 Cor 12:27–31 ESV).
In the church, God has appointed a hierarchy of offices: