What is Activate Church Pt5?

How a church organizes itself is really important. The organisational structure has a direct impact upon most things within the life of the church, both inside and outside in the community. It’s important that the bible be the standard rule for all church based organisational models. Corporate models can inform but must not become the rule.

The question needs to be asked, what is the best organisational model for your current context without compromising biblical standards. There are several models that are seen in church life and they consist of the following:

Congregational Ecclesiology is organised in this order:

  • Congregation
  • Staff
  • Pastor

Comment: Congregation holds the highest authority and leaders are employed to serve the whim and will of the congregation and if they don’t , they get fired. Biblical study reveals that there is more of a case for the church being led by zebras than by majority vote. Maturity is always in the minority and when the majority get the vote immaturity will always rise to the surface.   

Senior Pastor Ecclesiology is organised in this order:

  • Pastor
  • Staff
  • Congregation

Comment: This model is borrowed from the CEO corporate model. This model allows a church to grow quickly but is unable to stop the senior leader from dumb ideas and teaching heretical doctrine. The church is also vulnerable to sin more than other models as the leader doesn’t have adequate accountability. 

Eldership Board Ecclesiology is organised in this order:

  • Senior Pastor
  • Board of Elders (Separate to the staff)
  • Staff
  • Congregation

Comment: At first glance this seems a great model and more reflective of biblical models but in reality many churches who embrace this model do so more as a result of corporate models again with a separate board made up of non-pastors administering the big picture functions of the church. This includes approval of plans made by senior pastor and generous giving to underwrite the churches programs.  

Purpose-Driven Ecclesiology (Rick Warren model) is organised like this:

  • Core lay ministers
  • Committed maturing members
  • Congregation members
  • Crowd who regularly attend
  • Community who are the unchurched

Comment: Rick Warren’s model is popular amongst evangelical churches who particularly reach a lot of baby boomers. Rick Warren is a great leader who has had a massive impact upon the local church and the way it organises itself. I don’t think it’s sufficient from a biblical understanding of eldership. However it is very good because it includes an emphasis on the core ministers being equippers of the saints (Eph 4:11-16). 

Note: Activate Church is transitioning to the following organisational model.

Missional Ecclesiology is organised like this:

  • Trinitarian God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit
  • Elders (Executive Leadership Team: not separate board but senior leaders of the church and senior pastor is first among equals)
  • Deacons (Ministry Leadership Team)
  • Members
  • Attractional & Missional ministries
  • Culture (Pre-Christian)

Comment: Missional ecclesiology has Jesus as the Senior Pastor with the human senior pastor exercising senior leadership as first among equals on the eldership team. The church has one mission with 2 expressions. There is a gospel thread that aligns everything to mission. Structurally, it is based more on biblical theology rather than secular theory. Elders are player-coaches leading and training people at the same time. The term deacon is re-instituted for both male and female associate leaders (MLT).

Lead the Change!

One Response to “What is Activate Church Pt5?”

  1. Ben Wallis Says:

    Hey mate,
    Interesting to see your unpacking of the different models.
    Just a couple of throughts.
    It probably looks a little weighted to put the trinity as the head of the church model that you have chosen to adopt and not above all the others. I’m not sure Rick would see our model as the only one to adopt the Trinity as the head!
    Secondly, you have ‘members’ but wonder if there is a too bigger jump between signed up members of Activate and ‘culture’ as you have defined as preChristian. Perhaps there needs to be acknoweldgement of the broader church community who attend on a regular/semi regular basis but are not members? Also ‘culture’ is a very broad term, and could certainly be seen as used out of context to define pre Christian.

    Is there still a role for an accountability type group or identified persons who sit outside paid staff that can help identify gaps or opportunities outside of those made by the ELT who are also elders? In the past you have defined this as Board of Directors or accountability board/persons, I wonder if this should also be part of this model. I think perhaps at times a group providing 3rd party type wisdom can be helpful when they’re not inevitably absorbed with operational church life and perspective?

    Anyway some fat to chew on. Always enjoy reading your thoughts.


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