Picture this… you are taking your ship out to the open seas. There is excitement in the air. As the captain, you have the vision of where you are heading and are in tune with weather patterns and ocean currents. You keep watch of the horizon, for potential changes ahead, and you give instructions to alter the ship’s course as you see fit. You will put this vessel through it’s paces and see it in full flight. A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are made for – so the saying goes.
This nautical imagery goes a long way to helping us grasp the spiritual gift of administration and it’s place in the church today. The New Testament provides us with several lists of spiritual gifts used to build up the body of believers. 1 Corinthians 12:27-28 is the only one to mention administration, in the ESV and NASB translations that is. Other translations include words such as leadership (NLT), guidance (NIV), organisers (MSG), leaders (CEV), and governments (KJV). These are all different translations of the Greek word κυβερνήσεις, which has its origin in the word kubernao, meaning ‘to steer’. It implies leadership or governance, and has a literal sense of a helmsman, the person responsible for steering a ship.
Administration is a spiritual gift essential in the life of a gathering of believers as demonstrated in Acts 6. In those days the number of disciples was increasing (6:1). The apostles were responsible not only for preaching and praying but also for the day to day running of the church. Whenever an issue arose ‘on deck’ they would have divert their attention from praying, preaching and charting the course ahead to sort things out. We can only guess at the sort of issues they had to deal with, but we are told of one: a disagreement about the distribution of food among the groups of widows. The apostles sensed that these kind of issues were diverting too much of their time and energy, so they gathered the whole group of believers and instituted the first helmsmen.
There were seven who were selected to serve as the first administrators. They were of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom (6:3). They were called and gifted. They knew their stuff and were bold and courageous in their faith. Stephen, one of those selected for the role, went on to become the first martyr of the early church. And with the appointment of these administrators the number of disciples increased greatly and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith (6:7). How was this possible?
The role of a church administrator is to simplify systems, to serve the various ministries and activities, and release pastors to pray and preach. For a church’s potential to be fully released pastors need to be able to devote their time, energy and effort to vision and charting the course ahead, knowing that their church has the appropriate systems in place which are being overseen by a called and gifted administrator. The pastor at the bridge, telescope in hand, leading the way forward with the administrator at the helm ensuring everything is in place to steer the church in that direction – that’s when we get to see what the church was really made for.
For more on church administration – including the resourcing, networking, and training of church administrators – visit churchadmin.org.au
– Alissa Ryan & Peter Adcock, Greater West For Christ & churchadmin.org.au . For more info you can contact Peter on [email protected]