The early church was structured like a family. The elders cared for their people in the same way as fathers care for their children. But once the church was successful and respectable, it moved away from this biblical model. It dropped the family form of government and took over the imperial form of the Roman Empire. Bishops ceased to be shepherds and became more like monarchs. This imperial stage of the church continued down to the Reformation.
The Reformation substituted a bureaucratic form of church. The elders sat as boards and committees, ruling over the church. They were more like bureaucrats than pastors. Individual attention was given only to those with special needs. This form has continued up to the present time.
The modern church is often more of an institution than a people, or a community. Christian life is expressed in various activities and projects carried out in a church building. The result is that elders become more concerned with the institution than with people. Their leadership consists primarily in administration, decision making and opinion forming. Their time is spent in meetings organising programs and activities.
The authority of elders extends over the institution, but not over the lives of the church members. These remain private. The result is that elders have very little influence on the way that Christians actually live. Christian growth is limited, and very few strong relationships are formed.
The bureaucratic form of government has severely weakened the church. It has also left elders frustrated, because they are unable to fulfil a true spiritual ministry.
In recent years the church has begun to copy the corporate management model has become pervasive in the business world. “Electric Jack”, the CEO of General Electric has been held up as an example for church leaders. As churches have grown larger the corporate model seems more relevant.
Massive growth in the size has brought tremendous benefits to business through economies of scale. This growth has been made possible by the emergence of the corporate management model. This model has provided a method of controlling complicated and divergent processes. A body of literature has developed to encourage leadership within this model.
However, the corporate model is not relevant to the church. The primary goal of the corporate model is to control complicated processes to achieve quality and efficiency. Quality and efficiency are not important goals for the church.
|Activities where there are benefits from size||
Activities where there are no benefits from size
The really important things for the church seem to be in the right-hand column. Most of these are very hard to achieve in a large corporate model. All these things need to be done in a personal way in the anointing of the Spirit.
The church wanting to be big so that it can have a greater impact on the world has succumbed to the spirit of the beast. The beast says, “We must come together and pool our resources to achieve more and make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:1-4).
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