15.8.05

Church government

At House Family Breakfast this Sunday we gathered for our Common Purse AGM. All our wages go into the CP so we have an annual meeting to assess how it is all going. The outcome is that we are doing well financially though things will be getting a little tighter with changes of jobs and our expenditure being slightly high in comparison with other communities. Still we're living at a cost of about £66 per person per week so it's not awful. Community is working.

I've noticed how much I 'enjoy' (is that the right word?) church government when it is at an accessible level. Meetings like our CP AGM are good for that. I understand that decisions have to be made that won't involve me directly, but when I can see and hear what is going on I feel a lot more enthused about the whole process. It feels more democratic, even if that is not what it is about.

As a church (the Body of Christ with him at the head) we do not aim to be a democracy; there is a corporate selfishness in that form of rule with accountability only to ourselves. Some people say instead that the Jesus Army's New Creation Christian Community is a theocracy (government by God) but it's necessary to avoid being too glib about these things. God will have his way one way or another, yet the foolishness of man can get in the way sometimes and quite often.

Interestingly, for our church, decision-making at various levels does seem to be based around the two commandments which Jesus outlined as the most important: that we love God and love our neighbour. Looking at how the decision-making takes place it is usually prophetic direction which carries the most influence but there is great concern to listen to the needs of all church members too. There is representation by elders, committees, bureaucratic networks and other spokespersons and in this way families, women, children, the elderly and young brethren are also considered. Hopefully all those involved are listening to God. It is a list not too dissimilar to the the lists found in some letters of the New Testament, with the obvious exception of slaves. But the issue of slavery does neatly bring me onto my main thought on this: that in preference to the unaccountable notion that we are purely theocratic, perhaps it would be best to say that our church is best run as a government of servants, a theocratic dulocracy?

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Mark 10:41-45 (New International Version)