Community Christian Church
Author: S. Ayers Last Updated: 12/12/97
Role of the Executive
It is helpful to establish some ground rules regarding the role and responsibilities of the Church’s Executive Team. This is for the benefit of the congregation and members of the Executive. The church should be clear what they have elected and what they can expected from the group; the Executive should understand what they are being asked to do!
Much group work has been established over the last two years by current practise. This is especially so in the adoption of a congregational model, with much emphasis on the seeking after and building of consensus. There remains, however, plenty of scope for misunderstanding. At the writing of this document, we have a congregation from many different backgrounds, including Anglican, Baptist, Brethren, Congregationalist, FIEC, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman. Each tradition having different emphasis regarding church government and leadership models. It is not surprising then that with a variety of different church experiences, we come together with differing expectations of the roles and responsibilities of church leadership.
It is not the intention of this document to outline the purpose of the church, its vision, doctrine, mission – we are looking here at how we should understand the function of the Executive within the church.
A Biblical Basis for Church Government?
A number of different models for church government are used in the Christian denominations today. These range from Baptist/Congregationalist, with the emphasis on Priesthood of all Believers (1 Peter 2v5,9) and All Body Ministry (1 Corinthians 12v12,27), through to Presbyterian which the emphasis on Elders (Acts 20v17, 1 Tim 3v1-13), extended to Bishops by Methodists, Anglicans and Catholics. A variety of different mechanisms for “electing” leaders can also be seen in the New Testament from appointing (Titus 1v5), to choosing (Acts 6v3), even casting lots (Acts 1v23-26), to consensus (Acts 15v28).
It would appear that the main emphasis in the New Testament is on the quality of the candidates who take on the responsibility for overseeing, pastoring and ministering to the local church. It is remarkable that the Bible tells us nothing directly about the duties of these individuals. Perhaps we are left to use our freedom wisely and concentrate upon those characteristics which are important.
Today, the Community Christian Church, holds yearly elections for an Executive committee. The electorate is the committed adult congregation; the candidates those willing to stand, male or female, drawn from the same number. No overriding authority is given to any group or individual to veto candidates.
Role of the Executive
The church Executive has both leadership and management roles:
- Leadership – deciding to do the right thing – the initiation
- Management – deciding how to do it – the execution
This is to be undertaken in a church committed to consensus building and a congregation taking personal responsibility for corporate actions. The Executive should be committed to genuinely serve the congregation, in a church committed to support and respect each other.
Leadership and management relate to the moving the church forward under the direction of the Holy Spirit to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. This includes the pastoral, teaching, outreach and mission of the church as part of the Kingdom of God.
The Executive have the responsibility to assist the church to come to a decision regarding what is the right thing to do.
Like any organisation with people of differing ages, backgrounds and experiences, there will inevitably be differing priorities and viewpoints of the way in which the church should grow, the direction it should take, where our energies should be currently focused. This is healthy, but can easily lead to tensions.
The Executive team need to listen carefully, both to the church, their colleagues and themselves, seeking to determine where the Holy Spirit is leading. Wisdom is required to discern this, and as fallible creatures there is no guarantee that the Executive or the Church as a whole will always be right.
The Executive clearly need to build a consensus amongst themselves before endeavouring to convince the church! Consequently being able to work together as a team is vital. The congregation are encouraged to pray and support the group in this matter.
When taking an initiative to the church, which may be the consolidation of initiatives already being undertaken by individuals, the Executive is looking to bring the whole congregation behind an approach. To use an analogy, iron fillings scattered on the floor point in random directions until a magnetic field is used to point them all in the same direction!
At no point can the Executive claim to have a monopoly of the Holy Spirit’s guidance or wisdom. A course of action may be strongly advised, on the basis of deep consideration, discussion and prayer. But it is for the congregation to check and agree to embrace the initiative – or ask for a rethink. We need to be open to the concept that guidance and knowledge can from all in Christ’s body even “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.”
The Executive have a clear role in planning and co-ordinating the activities of the church. This is not unlike the need to get an orchestra of different instruments to play together. While each can play individually, together they require a conductor. It also helps if everyone agrees to play to the same music! To do so requires good two-way communication, a clear vision of where everyone is going, with appropriate delegation of responsibility and associated accountability.
Good management goes beyond co-ordination, it includes ensuring participants see themselves as part of the process they have agree to take part in. It ensures people are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and appropriately encouraged, corrected and trained along the way. Far from being dull committee work, this is an exciting means of stretching the congregation.
So What’s in a Name?
Suggestions for a name which encapsulates this understanding most welcome!