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Organizing the Church Organizing the Church

Organizing the Church


According to entrepreneur Steve Jobs, “Great things in business are never done by one person; they are done by a team of people.” But Sir Barnett Cocks, who served as a clerk in the British House of Commons, is said to have observed, “A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.” A committee is not always a team!

Some people find organizational structure boring and irrelevant. If the church is a community of the Spirit and the body of Christ, why should it have to bother with organization at all? We should just let God run things. But today’s reading reveals that God has ordained an organizational structure in the church. The text outlines the qualifications listed for the church’s two offices.

The term overseer is found elsewhere in the New Testament in connection with two other New Testament words. In Acts 20 Paul sent for the elders of the church in Ephesus to remind them of their duties: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). In other words, overseers are elders and shepherds (that is, pastors) in the church.

The other office is that of deacon. This term meant “servant,” and some see a link to the seven men chosen to assist the Apostles in Acts 6. The responsibilities of deacons are not spelled out in detail, but it seems likely that their role was to assist the overseers. Like the seven who were selected to ensure that the widows were served, they share the load so that the church’s overseers can focus on the ministry of the Word and prayer.

Pray with Us

Janet Stiven, VP and general counsel at Moody, welcomes the prayer support of the Moody family for her staff. Pray that the Lord would grant them the ability to follow His guidance in every situation and to please Him with every decision they make.

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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