Who do you pick to lead your assembly?
By James McBride
LINCOLN, England -- No Bible student can deny that the Scriptures teach us the need for some form of rule in the Church of God. An orderly assembly demands it.
However, if by rule you read governance, then there's trouble. The form governance takes is fought over and dictated largely by the proverbial men in black suits.
That must be so because there's little agreement as to its form.
That form may be inherited from a prior association or a variant form of it. Or it may be the near anarchy encountered in some small house churches.
None, however, would say that Christ is not in their assembly. His presence is invoked in opening prayers, and it is assumed He is indeed present.
But does He rule your assembly? And does your church structure really reflect His rule?
Possibly not. Recall that Jesus was stranded outside the church in Laodicea. The Laodiceans were deaf to Him.
Where, for example, would you find Bible support for top-down governance of a multiassembly universal denomination with a central government? Yet it is claimed such is "God's government," and too bad if you don't submit to it. But is Jesus perhaps left outside here too?
A study of the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 emphasizes that Jesus does indeed walk in the midst of His church in all ages, in all places. He exercises sovereignty over the churches. He commends their positive aspects. He points out their failings. He encourages. He punishes. He rewards. He opens and He shuts, and He actively intervenes as necessary, to the point of snuffing out their lampstand or even killing individuals.
Jesus, in other words, is the administrative head of His church, its CEO. God gave to Him "the key of David." God has "committed all judgment to the Son" (John 5:22).
So, when it all goes pear-shaped in the church, is it mere coincidence? Or simply bad luck? Or is Jesus--quietly and behind the scenes--perhaps wielding His authority?
Assuming your church is indeed part of the Church of God, when members leave in droves or your work stagnates or doors close are you just having bad luck? Or is it the corrective hand of the Sovereign?
Or maybe it is His guiding hand to set you on a new path?
The priority in decision-making is sensitivity to the voice of Christ: What is Jesus telling our assembly? Where is He leading us?
How to make decisions
When a decision is taken we should be able to say: "It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us that we" do such and such (as in Acts 15:28).
In Antioch, for example, "while they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'
"So after fasting and praying they laid hands on them and let them go" (Acts 13:1-4). Christ made His plans clear to His followers.
In the church the government of God is exercised through the unseen administration of church affairs by the risen and glorified Jesus.
God's government is not modeled on human structures but is the invisible hand of Jesus Christ on the tiller of every one of His assemblies, large or small.
As the all-powerful Son of God, He actively walks in the midst of and rules His church. He "knows our works." With burnished feet He walks in judgment.
The authentic, qualified and appointed leadership of each assembly is in His hand.
It is leaders' responsibility, in cooperation with the brethren, to listen to His voice and willingly submit to His lead.
He will guide. He will correct. He will direct.
Be sure Jesus is not excluded from your assembly.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God