Let us take a short walk back in time. As we began on this journey which became known as the Father’s Call, we had certain objectives in mind. Specifically, to understand how God’s government should function at the human level. The roles of the Father and Christ are without question. Christ, under the authority of His Father, is the living head of the Church.
As many of us have experienced, there has been a variety of approaches to Church government at the human level. However, over time government in the Church developed into a more autocratic, authoritarian style. This was widely accepted as the government of God in the Church. It was government from the top-down, investing a large amount of authority in the one at the top. Eventually this led to a more “lordship” style of leadership within the Church. It was not an altogether illogical deduction from a human point of view.
God’s governance is from the top down. It flows from the Father to His Son, the head of the Church, to the human chain of responsibility. When the Father and the Son are kept in view, governance in the Church should follow the God family model. God is a family. So, we have tried to adopt a family-style form of governance within the Church.
We have been ridiculed by some on the basis that there is hierarchy in God’s structure for the Church. We absolutely believe in hierarchy – family style hierarchy! The head of the woman is the man. The head of the man is Christ and the head of Christ is the Father. The hierarchy leads from the human level to Christ and the Father.
On the human level there is structure. But more important is the attitude within that structure. The head of a family has an unchallenged position of authority given to him by God. He is to use that authority to express love to his wife and family. He is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. As Christ gave Himself for the Church, so the husband is to love his wife as his own body. The husband’s love is derived from his submission to his head – Christ. He is to use that love to guide his wife and family into a relationship with Christ and ultimately to the Father. This is family style governance at the human level.
The ministry is to equip the saints and to edify the body of Christ. To assist members to grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ. Just as the husband is to do.
It was quite interesting recently to be able to read notes made at a ministerial conference held in Pasadena in 1972. Here are some comments from Mr. Armstrong as recorded by evangelist Raymond McNair at the time:
Be a leader, not a driver.
Inspire by your example. Lead, don’t drive. Some begin to be overlords – heavy handed.
Christ is love. Have an outgoing concern for those under Him.
Ministers must avoid running others’ lives.
Let us remember, we are there to serve them – not primarily to have them serve us.
We are entirely too rank-conscious.
Let us remember we are not policemen. We are not dictators.
Here is one last comment that should ring bells:
Originally, the Methodist movement was very fervent – but after Wesley died, this fervency died out. This type of situation could be repeated with us if we are not careful.
All of these comments are appropriate for any in a position of leadership – within families or within the Church. Some prefer a more rigid governance style as it gives them security through firm guidelines. God’s law provides strong guidelines, but the response to them must come from an internal motivation and desire.
Family governance based on the God family requires personal submission and motivation. No one can work out our salvation for us. It is a line of succession from us to the Father and it will provide spiritual growth and development for the children of God.