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Church Government Structure

Church government is the channel from which vision flows for the work of God’s Kingdom.

TWBC Church Government

The church is the hope of the world, because it brings the truth of God to bear on the needs of society and individuals as it reaches out in ministry. In order for the church to have its most powerful impact, it must have a working structure of government.

  • No church will grow larger in terms of the number of its members or the scope of its ministry than its government will allow. 
  • No church will achieve its full impact of ministry without an effective structure of organization and government. When a church chooses its government, it molds, shapes and casts its destiny. 

Church government is the channel from which vision flows for the work of God’s Kingdom. The church is the manifold expression of its members, and destiny forms for the individuals serving in His work through effective and efficient structure for governance and ministry. There are promised results for those relating to the church in a healthy way. 


1. A place to be planted, fruitful and flourishing 

Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

(Psalm 92:13-15, NKJV; emphasis added) 


2. A place of service, ministry and connection 

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us- see that you abound in this grace also. (2 Corinthians 8:1-7, NKJV: emphasis added) 


3. A place to be known providing a platform for service 

But from those who seemed to be something-whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man-for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. (Galatians 2:6-10, NKJV; emphasis added.


Church government provides a backbone of structure for these three results to occur. Church government has two foundation concepts: 

  1. Theocratic Rule – God is the head of the church. He established it, and He leads it. 
  2. Visionary Leadership – Established through one man who has been God-anointed and appointed and is surrounded by a plurality of godly, servant-hearted and gi􏰂ed elders and leaders. 

The style or structure of government that is in place must reflect these two important and bedrock concepts. 


Singular Headship with a Plurality of Leadership – TWBC Model

Benefits:

  • High buy-in with shared ownership of the vision.
  • High accountability through a clearly defined structure of authority.
  • Empowered and protected senior pastor with defined limits of decision-making authority Plural input from a broad base of leadership.


Weaknesses:

  • None, as long as everyone operates within the defined parameters and agreed upon limits of authority. 


Biblical Examples of Singular Headship and Plurality of Leadership > Moses and Jethro to the children of Israel in the wilderness, Peter represented the apostles to the Jerusalem church, Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Revelation, 

Jesus with the 24 elders in Revelation.


I. Theocratic Rule 

The concept that all governing institutions have been established by God as His delegated authorities. 

Governing institutions established by God are: the family, the government and the church. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1-2, NIV) 

1. Biblical government is based on the concept that all leaders are representative leaders for God and His kingdom, not their own selfish interests or personal benefit. 

2. Spiritual authority from which governance is developed is founded on the concept that all authority derives its position from God; therefore, when people obey that authority by faith, they are obeying God. 

  

II. Singular Headship and Plural Leadership 

The concept that God anoints and appoints one visionary leader and surrounds that leader with gifted and committed leaders to assist in the fulfillment of the mission. 

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. (Titus 1:5, NIV; emphasis added) 

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to Him. Teach them the decrees and laws and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain- and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (Exodus 18:17-23, NIV; emphasis added) 


  1. Singular head refers to the primary person that God uses to establish the vision, values and direction of the work of the ministry. 
  2. Plural leadership refers to the group of people who are a part of fleshing out the vision, monitoring the priority and timing of its development and evaluating the results being produced through the process of ministry to ensure successful fulfillment.

When they participate in these ways, they are part of a process that fleshes out the vision to it fullness. 


III. Government and Ministry in the Church

A. Government 

The governing function requires an ability to grasp and perceive the whole scope of work assigned by God and, therefore, it is responsible for: 


  1. Establishing visionary direction for the whole ministry by working with the senior pastor to hear God and flesh out the vision God has given him. 
  2. Discerning the condition of the ministry, while assisting, by monitoring the results of ministry that has been implemented by the staff through the organizational structure of the church. 
  3. Establishing the emphasis and timing of ministry implementation of the vision. 
  4. Establishing and maintaining a faith-filled atmosphere for ministry that is focused on obedience to God and effective ministry to people. 

 

B. Ministry 

Ministry is the result that is produced by the individual and combined efforts of those serving God. The governmental function is to set a disciplined focus and environment in which ministry can be conducted. As individuals minister, they should be under authority and in strategic alignment with the governing decision of the church.


  1. A ministry leader may be effective and focused, being totally consumed in a strategic area of need or service, but uninterested or unconcerned with the full scope of work in the church. In other words, he can be focused and effective without being governmental. 
  2. At TWBC, we believe the singular head is the senior pastor of the church. The plurality of leader- ship begins with the elder board but includes the process of implementation of the visionary direction from staff and other ministry leaders. 
  3. Ministry service is open to every person man-or woman-based on their commitment to God and to the church through membership, agreement with the vision and willingness to come under the authority structure of the leadership that has been put in place. 
  4. Women are withheld from holding a place of final governmental authority in the church, that being either the position of senior pastor or an elder. All other positions of leadership and ministry are open to them on an equal basis with men. 


IV. The Balance of Singular Headship and Plural Leadership 

One of the most critical issues in healthy churches is an ability to understand and attain balanced leadership. Most churches stifle their effectiveness or leave themselves open to destructive forces by operating with an imbalance of leadership. Often the kind of structure selected when a new church begins is a response to an unhealthy or imbalance of leadership previously experienced. 


Generally, this imbalance manifests itself in one of two extremes:

  1. Spiritual domination by one man without much or any input from others in the process. Political control by a group, which is the domination of a single leader by that control group. 
  2. The result of this imbalance is internal tension, mistrust and failure to achieve the desired vision and goals of ministry.


On the other hand, the rewards of balanced leadership are the opposite. The fruits of a biblical balance of authority in the local church are internal peace, trust and productivity that accomplish God’s will and His kingdom.