Leadership Structure in the Local Church

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Leadership Structure for Church Ministry
Geraldine Rowe

A Paper
Presented to Professor Dr. Epps

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
Research for Scholarly Writing

College of Biblical Studies
Houston, Texas
October 14, 2010

Leadership Structure for Church Ministry

The local church has not exhibited consistent patterns of lay leadership. Most denominations articulate the Reformation principle of a universal priesthood, while vacillating with changing times and pressures. At both the local and denominational levels organizations have expanded the role of lay persons which may or may not require them to be educated clergy. Organization structure of the local church whether modern or traditional empowers themselves to announce the word, administer the sacraments and to call and discipline ministers and laity. Believers in Christ connect simultaneously as a congregation to manage the work that Jesus requested. The general values that can be acclimatized to fit the features of “the local church” were established by the early church to do ministry. These values can be directed to the constitution or bylaws of a localized place of worship in modern times. Concentration should be given to the reason and objective of the local church preventing them from dropping into the complacency of just “doing church.” In architecture, one of the most significant notions is that the church balances between covenant theology and proliferated leadership roles. To explore this notion a closer look is given to church models and their leadership philosophies, beginning with the authority or “head” of the church. The first and most significant part of the church’s structure is the Head Shepherd who is Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:15-16). Underneath the Head Shepherd, there is an assembly of under shepherds (overseers, elders or pastors). Historically, from the perspective of Anglicans, Puritans, and Presbyterians all early Baptist preachers were lay, meaning they did not receive Episcopal or Presbyterian ordination. One example was Thomas Collier, who joined one of the seven London churches and served as an itinerant evangelist. He, through the use of the press gained great influence of Particular Baptists. Lay preachers were the chief means for the advancement of Baptist in the American frontier. Today, however the Pastor no longer functions merely as preachers, chief administrators or ordinances, counselors, and general leaders. They have become executives or administrators who perform numerous functions. They interface disillusionment when they discover that it requires something very different. They become the “hired hands” instead of God-called ministers. The common options for handling this issue seems to be emphasize the equipping role of the pastor and other professionals while seeking to acknowledge an array of functions and leadership in the churches today.

The leadership of the church depends largely upon its doctrine and how closely the pastor is to follow its bylaws. One view is that of the church as a covenant community which has deep roots in biblical as well as free-church traditions. Max Stackhouse wrote on “free church Calvinism” which had a strong influence on the Puritans who left the Church of England. He describes it like this: “A covenantal people live under the law of God, and find themselves empowered to live together by the love of God. God is the source and sustainer of the covenant ecclesia. Though the initiator of the covenant of God, the church also in a sense a voluntary community. The covenant is voluntary in the sense that it is not a community given by birth in a family, class or nation. People must choose to be an active member. This is so even if, in another sense, it is not voluntary at all. God initiates the covenant, humans only receive it, as signified by baptism.”

This doctrine if properly adopted eliminates the temptation of...
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