Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Church Governance (3)

In the world, authority comes from top, being delegated down through the hierarchy. The people in a business organisation exercise the authority that has been delegated to them by a manager, whose authority has been delegated from the CEO. Staff are accountable to the CEO, through their manager. Accountability and authority go together.

In the church authority comes from the bottom, when people freely submit to more mature Christians that they love and trust. They submit to elders for their spiritual protection. Christian elders are given authority by the people who submit to them. They gain authority through character and gifting, not from position and appointment. If the elder loses the plot, the people who have feely submitted to them are free to withdraw their submission. When that happens, the elder loses their authority.

This is why submission is more important than authority in the New Testament. Voluntary submission creates authority, so without submission there is not authority.

On the other hand, Christian elders are accountable to God for the people he has entrusted to them. Elders will have to give account on the judgment day for their oversight of the people who have freely submitted to them.

This is totally different from the business world. God has made Christian elders accountable, without giving them authority. They have to earn their authority by demonstrating wisdom and love, before they can exercise it. If they become harsh and controlling, their authority will quickly disappear.

In the world, authority and accountability go together. One comes with the other. In the church, leaders have accountability without authority. That really raises the bar.

1 comment:

Gene said...

This is a good series.