The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXXXIII
The Church has always struggled over control asking to whom is it to be accountable? Of course, the answer is always to the head, Jesus Christ, but in practical terms, to whom is it accountable? As it institutionalizes, a hierarchy always develops which assumes the responsibility of bringing accountability to the structure. Laws, By-Laws, Tenants, and theological position papers establishing “laws” to govern morality and doctrine within the structure are created to prevent heresies. More control diminishes the fluidity of the Holy Spirit moving within it. Control versus the Spirit has become an age-old tension within the Church for centuries. The question I am posing is, “Can there be a structure that would bring accountability yet allow the movement of the Spirit?”
I believe there is a structure which the 21st Century Church should at least look at, observe, discuss, and possibly embrace, but the structure is a radical change from the traditional structure set forth by the Church fathers over the centuries as they embraced the Western Roman Catholic approach of hierarchy. So what is this structure?
First, I believe that God is restoring the five fold back into His Church. He wants his believers to be evangelists, those that birth the kingdom of God in individuals and the Church, to be shepherds to nurture, care, and develop his sheep to be mature in Christ, to be teachers of the Word, making the written Word a living Word, to be prophets, people who listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and then wish to be obedient towards that voice, and to be apostles to see over the Holy Spirit’s movement by developing, encouraging, then releasing the other four giftings or passions of service to bring maturity to the individual believer and unity in the body of Christ.
Second, I believe the restoring of such radically different points of view of ministry can bring division, as history has proven, unless those who practice each of the five different passions is willing to “lay down their lives” for the other four through service. Through serving one another, accountability will be established. It is natural to listen to and follow someone who is willing to sacrificially serve you. As you serve one another, a bond of accountability is created.
Third, the presence of four different points of view at the table (evangelistic, shepherding, teaching, prophetic, and apostolic) will bring stability and prevent heresies as each point of view becomes a check and balance through service and accountability, again with the emphasis of sacrificially laying down one’s life for one another.
I know this sounds idealistic because today those different points of view have produced divisions, denominations, church splits, schisms, etc. in the Church, but that is because those in the Church are not willing to “lay down their lives” for one another. We preach that we need to lay everything on the altar and allow the Holy Spirit to consume it; the giving it back restored or renewed is an option but not a given, yet we are unwilling to “lay down our lives” for those Christians who are not in our “camp” of theology. We will never see true revival in the Church until the Church is prepared to “repent” of what has divided it. “Repentance” means the turning away of what was wrong, so if the Church is to turn away from the very structure that has divided it for centuries, what should the 21st Century Church turn toward? I propose the five fold structure of “service” (through one’s gifting or passion) and “accountability” (laying down of one’s life sacrificially).
Fourth, this then becomes a “pluralistic” leadership where no one gifting, passion, or point of view is the head, the chief administrator, the C.E.O., the pastor, bishop or the pope. The apostle is not even the “head” for he is only one of the five passions of service; Jesus is the head over all five passions. When the five get together the gifting or passion that is most needed rises at that moment, at that time, to face that situation with the other four supporting that gifting or passion through their service. The next situation could be totally different with a different passion of the five fold rising. Only the moving of the Holy Spirit would dictate which passion of service may rise and be supported by the others in unity.
I know this model is drastically different from today’s church boards, professional hierarchical structures, but if the Church is to be “without spot and wrinkle” as a “preparation” for the Lord’s return, then maybe the 21st Century Church should embrace a system that is to “prepare” the “saints” for the work of the “service” to develop believers into the maturity of the “full measure of Christ” brining unity to the Body of Christ, the Church, in preparation for Jesus Second Coming, a prophesied event that will happen! Come on 21st Century Church, let’s start the “preparation” period and begin to move toward “service” and “accountability” through a fluid model of leadership under the direction of the Holy Spirit! That is my challenge.