Saturday, August 27, 2011

Church Government - Part 5 The Bishop-Led Church

The Bishop-Led Church

The Bishop-led church exhibits a loose hierarchy system where the decisions of the church made by its leader are observed throughout the denominational structure. An example of this is the United Methodist Church with the diocese operations.[1] Methodists, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans, including Episcopalians, all see the bishop as a superintendent with the unique authority to ordain presbyters and deacons.[2] This view is contrary to a reading of Acts 20:17-28; 1 Pet. 5:1-2; Phil. 1:1; and 1 Tim. 3:1-16 where clearly there was no difference between bishops and presbyters or overseers.[3] Still, in the case of Anglicanism the bishop’s ordaining power lays the validity of the church in its apostolic succession going back in an unbroken line to the apostles and through them, specifically Peter, to Jesus himself.[4]

One of the strengths of episcopal governance is the fact that a single individual can have a tremendous influence in directing the energies of a large number of the faithful. This is especially so, as an example, in terms of missions when the head of a diocese leads the charge on a particular area of concern. While inclusiveness in and of itself is not a bad thing, a weakness of this polity is the seeming attempt to be all things to all people.

[1] Welch, Robert H. Church Administration: Creating Efficiency for Effective Ministry. (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2005), 66.

[2] Brand, 228.

[3] Easton, M. G. Easton's Bible Dictionary. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1966).

[4] Ibid.

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