Jesus Christ is the head of the church. The church is a global network of local pods of administration. Because every locale poses a potpourri of different spiritual obstacles, God has positioned His people strategically to contend with principalities and powers. The local church needs to see itself, in one sense, as a spiritual stronghold. The local body needs to defend itself from the schemes of the devil, while at the same time fulfill its spiritual mission in the world.
The vision for the church is the same in each location: Christ made known. Each believer is an ambassador for Christ, to herald Christ to the community, and welcome in those who receive His salvation and Lordship. To stimulate the heralding business, the local church must make obedient disciples. The disciple-making process is closely related to sanctification, which is God’s on-going program of preparing His people for their positions in the age to come. Lampstand theology (Rev 2–3) warns every local church that there are consequences to bad administration.
The word for administration in the Greek NT is kubernao, which has a Latin origin. Leadership and government are the two most common translations into English. To look at its use in Latin, however, gives us the verb “to steer.” When the word is used in the context of government, it activates the idea “to rule.” The wisdom of Proverbs gives us some contextual flavor to good administration: individuals listen and learn as men with good sense seek and find wise counsel (1:5); nations find success in abundant counselors (11:14); and those who wage war find victory in many advisers (24:6).
Wise administration in the church operates under the directive of the Trinity that gifted some especially for administration in the church. It would be wrong for us to assume at this point the Bible is teaching that we need good businesspeople running the church business. There is a blurry line between the plurality of elders government in a local church and a corporate board model. The former operates as a spiritual leadership of, and sometimes group rule over, a congregation. The senior pastor functions as one of the elders and is an active participant in all voting decisions. The latter, corporate board government, isolates the senior pastor as a sort of corporate CEO. He is hired to manage the ministry, but he is given no authority. The importation of this model from the business world is troublesome to the local church. It leaves the senior pastor as a hireling, the very thing Jesus warned against in John 10:13.
The church is a spiritual, corporate body. Christ has given divine charismata, or a spiritual gift of administration to some for the building up of the local church (1 Cor 12:28). We see some good OT types in Joseph, Joshua, and Daniel. Joseph was young and had no apparent administration experience when His brothers threw him in the pit and then sold him into slavery. When his gift of administration appeared in Potiphar’s house, Pharaoh’s prison, and as administrative ruler over all Egypt; Joseph’s secret was revealed, “God has made me lord of all Egypt (Gen 45:9)” and “The Lord was with Joseph. He was successful…(Gen 39:2).”
God was with Joshua; and he was promised success in the conquest and settlement of the promised land if he would only be strong and very courageous. His given task was to meditate on the Law day and night so he would know what God wanted him to do (Jos 1:5–7). That is what they do not teach church leaders at Harvard Business School.
Daniel was transported in the slave exodus into exile to Babylon. He distinguished himself as a young man by being faithful to the Lord. As he grew older, his administration gifts were recognized by King Darius. Was it his education at Hammurabi U.? No, the Bible tells us Daniel excelled in the administration of government because of something else, “Now this Daniel was distinguishing himself above the other supervisors and the satraps, for he had an extraordinary spirit. In fact, the king intended to appoint him over the entire kingdom (Dan 6:3).” An extraordinary spirit is the Lord’s favorable presence, even when our biblical hero was thrown to the lions for not complying with that which is contrary to God.
Administration in a local church is a spiritual business. Administrators in a local church must be spiritual men, gifted and anointed by the Lord to conduct His spiritual business. We must remember, the Auditor is coming again. Church government models come and morph, but men with God’s favor know the work that will not burn as wood, hay, and stubble. In seeking to serve the Lord and bring glory to His name, it is natural for administrators to be opposed and even thrown in prison. The apostle Paul was surely comforted in reading about Daniel and Joseph as he sat in prison writing to strengthen the Aegean Association of Regular Churches.
I was blessed with the gift of Chuck Smith’s autobiography from a lovely lady awhile back. Prescott, Corona, Tucson, Huntington Beach, Los Serranos, Costa Mesa, and Corona, a second time, only briefly saw his rising star. Seven small churches in his first twenty years of ministry, and then quite possibly the smallest of them all received him — Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. The rest of that story is still being told. God’s timing, God’s direction, and God’s places prepared God’s man with God’s favor.
Do you think someone in one of those places once said, “Chuck Smith doesn’t have the gift of administration?” If he did, they were wrong. If he did not have the gift, it does not matter, Christ is the Head of the church. The picture on the cover of the book is Chuck with his ever-present smile seated behind the steering wheel of his vintage car. Perhaps Chuck was smiling because he knew who is really steering…everything. “We live and move in him and can’t get away from Him! (Acts 17:28 MSG).” Now that’s administration.
July 10, 2021