Fb Share

Understanding that the New Testament hands us little in the way of church organizational structure, we also recognize an essential need for a structure of some kind that is both efficient and effective in carrying out the mission of the church, which is made amply clear.

Perhaps the reason for this lack of detail regarding structure is owing to the fact that there is a timeless, divine perspective on the church as a collective body of believers linked together by a common Spirit and mission that is often lost in our cultural, human perspective on such things as purpose, leadership, authority, responsibility, and accountability.

Most tradition-bound churches operate from an organizational structure based on the American business model and corporate management principles of the last century. Words such as “business meeting”, “committee”, “board”, “chairman”, and “Constitution and By-laws”, are obviously non-biblical terms.

Organizational charts usually illustrate a “top-down” management structure with the Senior Pastor at the top of the “Chain-of-command.” This is often more a perception than a reality in that it almost never incorporates the church as a whole. Therefore, it almost never accurately portrays the church’s true structure in terms of authority, responsibility, and accountability.

The big flaw in this common church structure is that it misrepresents, undermines, and shackles biblical leadership. The big failure is that the mission of the church becomes less important than the management of the church. The big fix is a fundamental shift in the church’s values, practices, and priorities.

We have enough of the historical church in the New Testament to see it as a movement of God through his people as empowered by the Holy Spirit. We see it as a movement that transcends culture and human society without ignoring context and the necessity for organizing people to carry out its purpose as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The Chain of Commission depicted below might be a better way of understanding a church structure that is moving under he Lordship of Christ. He is the point of the spear. He is the Head of the Body and the Great Shepherd of the sheep. In this model, called and gifted biblical leaders truly lead the church as they follow Christ. Leaders and those they lead are both empowered and linked together as practitioners of the Gospel and partners with God in the work of the Kingdom.

The Chain of Commission:                                                                                                                       

<SMALL        <MISSION     <DEACON              <OVERSEERS:           <CONGREGATION:         <JESUS CHRIST 

GROUPS> ----- TEAMS> ----- MINISTRY> -----  Pastors/Elders> ----- The Body of Christ> ----- The Head/Shepherd>>>>>>>>>      

                                                                                                                                                                       

In the Chain of Commission model, Christ empowers the church, the church empowers biblical leaders, and the leaders empower the people, providing the leadership, equipping, and vision for fulfilling the mission. The key question is not “Who’s in charge?” but “Who’s leading the charge?"

User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Earl Thornton
    47740131
    I enjoyed reading your article and find merit. Could you redo the Chain of Commission? It does not seem clear.
  • TEST 10:43 am Scofield
    46106128
    asdf
Hal West Writes

Latest posts by Hal West
Hal West
Hal West spent 33 years as a pastor with an emphasis on creating effective change and transition in a traditional church setting. He is the President of Compass Coach and Consulting (compasscoachandconsulting.com) whose mission is to assist pastors and churches find the road to success. He has authored 3 books. His latest is The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish: Boomer Pastors Bouncing Back (CrossBooks Publishing, 2011)
Videos
Ten tactics from Proverbs to help you manage conflict

This rapid-fire list of concepts and verses will arm you with things to do when conflict takes root in your church. (Tom Harper at Church Central Turnaround 20/20)
 

 
Elmer Towns: The next big church turnaround method

"Life groups are changing today's church." (From Church Central's Turnaround 20/20 summit in 2012)
 

 
John Maxwell launches a prayer meeting

When he was a pastor in San Diego, Maxwell went against the wishes of his board and started a new prayer ministry that helped the church grow. Here's how he did it. (Elmer Towns at Church Central Turnaround 20/20)
 

 
Do some churches do more harm than good?

When a church doesn't make disciples, its value to the Kingdom is questionable. (Aubrey Malphurs leading a training session for the Society for Church Consulting.)
 

 
How weaknesses help leaders win spiritual battles
Chuck Lawless, Dan Reeves and John Ewart talk about the power of brokenness in fighting Satan in a church turnaround situation. We all have weaknesses that the enemy is very aware of, and when we direct our fear toward God rather than him, we …
 
Bandero Road Church's 7 'how we live together' statements

Will Mancini discusses how this church defines what a disciple should look like in their congregation. (From Church Central Turnaround 20/20)

 
Strategies for becoming multicultural

Blended worship, multigenerational, multilingual. Whatever you do, be fluid, said Jan Paron. "What worked last year may not work this year." (From Church Central Turnaround 20/20)
 

 
How I became the county pastor

You think you're busy? Melissa Pratt tells how she adopted the community and became its chaplain.

 
» View More Videos