Organizational Structure

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Revival-minded churches grow.  These are the churches that have applied and dedicated themselves to the five previously studied principles of the revival.  The result will be growth, both in quality and in quantity.  As we begin to discuss organization, we are actually indicating two needs of the growing church: organization and administration.  The revival must be structured in both of these areas.  It must be organized in order to guarantee that it continues to grow in the will of God.  And, it must be properly administered to ensure that it does not grow faster than the will of God.  In other words, we have to organize and administer the revival in order to contain the revival

As early as chapter 11 of Acts, the elders and apostles began to experience the need for further organization of the Church’s expanding growth.  In fact, in that chapter, we can see several areas that were taken into consideration concerning the organization of the movement. 

  • In verses 3-18 the policy and the future doctrinal stance of the Church are discussed. 
  • In verses 19-22 they consider the expansion of the Church into new areas.
  • In verses 23-26 there is the need for further administrative leadership brought to light. 
  • In verse 27 spiritual gifts in operation (specifically, prophetic gifts) signal the need for spiritual oversight and restraint.  Imagine the prophetical gifts of utterance without supervisory authority! 
  • Then, in verse 29, the Church gets organized in terms of future offerings to be taken for the relief of struggling saints in Jerusalem. 

All of this points to the fact that as the Church grew, needs grew.  As needs grew, they found that ministry in a revival church should grow as well.  This simply meant that the Church began to organize the movement in order to properly oversee and administer it.  They contained the revival, yet at the same time adequately prepared for further growth.

Another consideration given by the apostles was in regards to false teachers and false apostles that were very early on making known their destructive potential in the apostolic church.  Nearly every New Testament writer devotes time to explaining the need to be on guard against these evil seducers.  And, of course, we can read the decision of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem in the 15th chapter of Acts when a matter of doctrinal dispute was brought to their attention.  They were constrained to make a ruling, and this ruling was applied in a global sense to the entire Church.  In other words, the headquarters church in Jerusalem, and its leadership, were looked upon to decide policy concerning a doctrinal position for the entire body.  They were, therefore, organized knowing that they were responsible for administering the fellowship of believers. 

Someone had to feel this obligation for “controlling” the expansion of the Church.  It was a growing body and therefore needed proper diet, protection, and nurture in order to continue to grow.  Church government came into existence, not just as a matter of survival, but also as a means of modeling the previous revival principles in order to see even more spiritual growth.

We can perhaps even see the early beginnings of “licensing” senior ministers and leaders.  In Acts 15:24, the apostles wrote, “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment.”  This simply means that though they had come out from the Jerusalem Church, they had been given no recognition or authority to carry a new and unapproved doctrine to the churches in Antioch.  Therefore, the apostles and elders wrote this famous letter to Antioch, confirming what was to be emphasized and what was to be avoided in certain doctrinal and practical aspects of the Christian faith.  Today, licensing tries to serve the same purpose in certifying that the license holder is of the same doctrinal persuasion of the sending body, and that he is dedicated to propagating the same message of salvation and holiness.  He, therefore, becomes accountable to the body that sent him.  Again, this “contains” the revival in a very positive sense.  Guarding against expansion that is too rapid for supervision is imperative in a revival church

 

About Jim Poitras

Enlisiting, educating, equipping, empowering, and encouraging members, ministers, and missionaries in apostolic global missions. Director of Education/AIM