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The Structure of Church Ministry
The root of all truly Christian ministry lies in the relationship of the Holy Spirit to that individual believer.
“You[plural] are...God's building.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it.
And each one
[of you leaders] must be careful how he builds.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
In other words, the structure built must be aligned with its Foundation!

1 Corinthians 3:9-11
        Ministry Financing — Church Organization — Leadership Structure —  
these
practical administrative issues tend to naturally imbibe the ideas and influences from our world's cultures and management systems, and are thereby often very vulnerable to a spiritually corrupting of the central biblical basis of their existence,
unless the intrinsic character of the Christian Church as the foundation of all these functions is clearly understood.
 
While it is true that God did not develop the Christian Church in a vacuum, He did assert and demonstrate for us certain key principles to determine the foundational shape underlying all ministry structures and methods in practical church life. But, historically, in the process of response to practical needs and a changing environment, these ministry superstructures and systems naturally tend to conform to cultural or social norms and the best-practice philosophies of the time. They therefore must always be continually evaluated and corrected to simply maintain their consistency with the foundational principles of Christian church life.
 
As in building construction, every aspect of Christian ministry must in principle be constructed according to the layout of its foundation. Just as a wall or any other superstructure that is not fully based within the form or boundary lines of its foundation beneath may appear to be strong, useful and pleasing outwardly, yet its unavoidable destiny is a humiliating collapse and damage to those involved, so also it is with the Lord's Church. This foundation of ministry is what God has given us in Jesus Christ.
See:
The Foundation
For this reason the Spirit of God through Paul warns the Corinthian church leaders, as quoted above, that they must ensure that their contribution to the local church conforms to the character of what God established in Jesus Christ. Understanding this foundation is therefore the basis of understanding the structure of Christian ministry.
 
 
The Bible explains and expands the implications of this for us in summary.
 
 First Principle:  Each Local Church is an instance of the Whole Church  
By its nature, every local church is an instance of the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ, if it is a Christian church at all. That is, the local church is not a part or branch of the whole Christian Church. Nor is the worldwide Church of Jesus composed of a collection of local churches. The local church is the epitomé or embodiment, in a particular locality, of the Church of Jesus Christ worldwide.
 
It is for this reason that the one Holy Spirit is shown in vision to the Apostle John on Patmos as "seven Spirits" before the Throne, for the message John receives is to seven local congregations. In other words, it is as though each local church enjoyed the totality of the whole Holy Spirit, which in principle is what it had received on the Day of Pentecost even though historically these local churches did not existed at that time.
Revelation 1:4; 5:6.
For this same reason, Christ's instruction on the process of discipline among believers to preserve their spiritual unity has its ultimate stage in the response of the local church congregation with nothing above that, beyond which the unrepentant is to be openly treated as a non-Christian (Matt.18:17).
Matthew 18:15-20.
In its historical journey, hierarchical religious structures as well as politico-cultural divisions which developed within Christianity have seriously misled our human understanding about the real structure of Christian ministry. These have very often treated the local church as a local branch of denominational interest or simply a subordinate partner, and sometimes even as merely as a fund-raising resource for denominational programs.
 
The above First Principle truth concerning the local church has practical implications for the financial support of all Christian ministries of any kind anywhere and also of the proper practice of accountability. For instance, a Mission Board composed of representatives of many local churches has no more authority than the decision of one such local church even though it may enjoy far greater support regionally.
 
This means therefore that no ministry of the Christian Church can ever be independent of the local church in the area of its function. Simply as the moon shines only by reflecting the light of the sun so also any specific ministry, whether regional, national, or international, is to directly reflect the spiritual life of Christ resident within the local church. This is foundational, the base of all ministry.
 
 Second Principle: 
The Church is composed only of Individual Believers
 
God's people are individually members of Christ's Body, His Church, as expressed in baptism, and each is therefore unavoidably a part of the church of Jesus in their own locality, with all the practical implications which this then carries. It is the intensely personal nature of the change of spiritual ownership of each individual life which places that person within the spiritual identity of the local church. Thus the church is not composed of families or of any social grouping, but only of individual believers through personal unconditional faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Although administrative procedures of managing local church membership through application, induction and introduction have developed to meet practical needs in the integration of the individual into the life of the local church community, these are not qualifications for membership. The individual simply belongs to the local church because he or she belongs to Christ. All else is simply structural scaffolding to assist the process of that realization.
 
Here the interdependence of individual believers comes into focus. No individual member has all ministry gifts even though it is the individual that carries these gifts and not a particular office within ministry structure.
 
Although in ancient Israel God had created an office of spiritual leadership through the Sinai covenant, as was demonstrated by the Spirit-inspired prophecy through the evil high priest Caiaphas, there is no such equivalent in Christ's New Covenant community of believers. To each and every believer is given the Spirit for the good of the whole. As the Spirit Himself wrote to us through Paul :
John 11:49-52
  "To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all." 1 Corinthians 12:7
This intensely personal reality of Christian identity is intrinsically interdependent with other Christians through the one Spirit by whom we are made Christian.
 
 
"For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.
Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.
For in fact the body is not a single member, but many
."
1 Corinthians 12:13-14
This interdependence is stressed by the differences in ministries among God's people.
 
 
"For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another
."
Romans 12:4-5
Christian ministry is always carried by people, individual persons, not committees or any other organisational structure, for the Holy Spirit anoints persons and not organizations. The Holy Spirit is given only to those in Christ through faith in His redeeming mercy. Therefore Church Ministry in all forms is an outgrowth of the spiritual life of a congregation. It is not based on programs designed with the best intentions (these are but scaffolding support). It is based on the life of Christ in God's people.
 
 Third Principle:  The Holy Spirit is Lord in the Church no less than Jesus Christ is Lord of His Church.  
At a particular time Paul and Silas were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel in a certain district (Ac.16:6-7). This is His authority. He is absolute in His lordship within the Christian Church. This Holy Spirit is with God's people today with the same authority. Before the Ascension of Christ, as the Lord Jesus was with His disciples during the days of His Palestine ministry so the Holy Spirit is with us today. Just as Christ proceeded from the Father in His leadership authority over His disciples, so today the Holy Spirit proceeds in authority from the same Throne above (Jn.15:26 – 'proceeds from the Father' as Christ had proceeded, i.e. come with authority).
 
Thus, it was the Holy Spirit who instructed the leadership of the church in Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul for their special work:  
 
"While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,
'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them'.
"
Acts 13:2
Notice the words - "set apart for Me". These men were not set apart for a special ministry approved by the leadership of the Antioch church. They were set apart to follow what the Spirit had already called them to in their hearts. This is a significant difference from the customary practice of ministerial ordination.
 
Yet, it is also important to note that Paul and Silas did not set out on their God-called mission until it was affirmed within the unity of their relationship to God's people by the Spirit through whom the believers are one body. This is the practice of the lordship of the Holy Spirit within the fellowship of the Body of Christ as demonstrated in the local church.
 
This does not mean applying a formula of 'let every word be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses' (a legal requirement of Mosaic law) as has been done to prevent ill considered actions, for if that were so we would have missed out on the ministry of those tide-turning individuals such as Martin Luther whom God has raised up as solitary voices at different times and places. But it does mean that obedience to the Spirit of the Lord will grow that person's commitment to the welfare of God people and sensitise them to their needs.
 
 Therefore:  Conclusion  
Christ and His character defines the Christian Church: that is, our relationship to God through Christ and our relationship to fellow believers in Christ sets the character of what has or does not have place in church life today.
Ignorance of this principle makes partnership-financed Media Ministries susceptible to perversion.
  Thus ministry in all forms is essentially an outgrowth of the spiritual life of the local church.
Consequently, in practice the Christian Church exists only at the level of direct personal relationships within Christ. Communication via internet blogs or telephone conferencing is not a substitute for this direct relationship in any sense. In like manner, media ministries and their wide-spread audiences are not churches in any sense.
Pastoral oversight of Christ's Church is well expressed in the faithful shepherd analogy of Christ's day. The shepherd led his sheep and did not drive them, for he lived with them and they knew/recognised his own voice. This means that pastoral leadership is based on a practical relationship rather than on structural status.
 
The ancient shepherd's functions were essentially two-fold –
        1. to give direction to the flock for food and water; and,
        2. to protect/guard the flock from predators.
By analogy these two functions remain the essential character of all pastoral/shepherding care in Christ's church today –
        1. to give spiritual direction for the health of the flock (public teaching and personal counselling); and,
        2. to guard/protect them from exploiters (spiritual wolves).
See:
Chronology of Confusion
In the light of the above therefore, Christ's people are not herded by decisions issuing from denominational structures. God's people simply recognise the voice of the Lord in their leaders, as the Lord Jesus said the true sheep would (Jn.10:27), and choose to follow, through whatever channel that voice may be heard. Denominational structures are hopefully those persons through whom history has demonstrated trustworthiness.
 
The sacredness of Christ's people is the sacredness of Christ Himself. To touch them is to touch Him if they are ever harmed by any form of self-promotion among God's people! Promises of prosperity used to exploit the goodness of God’s people in fund-raising ‘partnership-ministries’ often directly violate this trust relationship between God's people.
 
As a financial source of ministry-support, the people of God simply express by their giving an appreciation for ministry received (Gal.6:6). It is an act of worship toward God from whom all blessings flow. Beyond this, their giving is a godly caring for the welfare of fellow believers, whether those believers be missionaries or suffering saints in other places.
 
In like manner, any special ministries of song, worship-leading, preaching, prophesying, etc., also have their authority to function, not from some special individual anointing of the Spirit or from some designation by a particular level of church leadership, whether it be Elders, Overseers, Presbyters, Priests or Pope, but directly from the needs of the people for whom Christ died. This is love. This is the governing validation for every ministry. This is the reason why 1 Corinthians 13 precedes 1 Corinthians 14. Thus, order in ministry exists because love acts according to what is in the best interest of those to be served by that ministry.
 
Validation of any ministry lies in its beneficial results to those receiving that ministry and not in any top-level structural recognition. Recognition of ministry by one's peers and seniors may give encouragement and thereby open doors of faith for growth in service, as Stephen and Philip both found after they were chosen by the people to supervise welfare food distribution and so appointed by the Jerusalem Twelve. But, the very existence of the office of those Seven arose, not from any preordained structure of ministry, but from the need among the Lord's people. It is the people, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the basis of all ministries. This does not mean waiting for approval from one's Christian peers, but it does mean that true Christian ministry will always strengthen godly relationships among the Lord's people.
Acts 6.

In this light, and in view of the pervasive tendency for the world's structures, systems and methods to shape our thinking in church management and ministry, the Bible is clear on the principles concerned, which we do well to adhere to. As an example, Christ's instruction in sending out His Twelve saying –
"You have received freely [of Christ's teaching], freely give [in ministry to others]"
has absolutely nothing to do with being financially generous and has everything to do with not charging the beneficiaries of Christian ministry. So Christian ministry, whether it be counselling, teaching, or preaching is always free-of-charge, even though study materials may be paid for by the recipient. Church ministry in principle is always without charge.
 
God
instructs us through Paul to not go beyond what is written in God's Word in our standards and definitions, or as we may say today, ministerial job descriptions.
WARNING!
  "I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,
that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favour of one against another
."
1 Corinthians 4:6
Appropriately,
any standard of evaluation of one ministry as against another, hypothetical or real, is impermissible and perilous if the judgment of the Lord of His Church is to be averted and His joy in His people rediscovered.
 
"Let not, then, your good be evil spoken of, for the kingdom of God is not in eating and drinking but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit".
  Romans 14:16-17  


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