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Administering the Local Church Through Organization

The movement towards “Monepiscopacy” gathered momentum so rapidly that by the end of the second century it was the standard pattern of church government throughout Christendom. That is to say, each congregation was governed by a bishop, a body of presbyters, and a board of deacons. In the latter part of the third century, a development began whereby the bishop of the Chief City in any province tended to become principal bishop of that province.

The bishop of Constantinople derived importance from the fact that his city was the capital of the Roman Empire, the only such capital city after the downfall of the Roman Empire in the West in AD 476. During this time, Rome was important from the Christian point of view, the reason being that it was the only church in the West of undoubted apostolic origin, because it was associated with Peter and Paul, and because its bishops were usually found in theological dispute on the side which finally won acceptance as orthodox.

Rivalry later developed between the Patriach of Rome and that of Constantinople. This tension between the Eastern Church (Constantinople) and the Western Church (Rome) ended in a great schism in 1054.8 After this final separation between the East and West, the Roman bishop was able to make good use of his supremacy over the churches of Western Christendom.

First, the congregation or the independent government. In this pattern of government, each local church was autonomous in the sense that it governed its own affairs, for instance, calling and dismissing its Ministers, regulating its own finances and disciplining its members without any outside interference.

This type of church government is that controlled by elders. This church government recognizes two types of elders, preaching and ruling. These meet to form the session of the church – that is, the body transacting the business of the church, even to the admission and dismissal of members. This type of government was started by John Calvin in Geneva where he was the chief Minister from 1541-1564.11

Church organization is necessary in that it conforms to the nature of God. God Himself is orderly. He is a God of organization. Nature itself gives proof of how organized God is. The heavens are wonderfully fashioned. The Old Testament record reveals how carefully God organized Israel for her sojourn in the wilderness. The New Testament shows how Jesus went systematically about his task.

The local church organizes in order to meet the needs of its own people through outreach. One of the local churches is the Regent Road Baptist Church in Freetown. It trains its own leaders and send them out for evangelism. Presently the church has two preaching stations and three home-cell groups