In the letter apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Titus, he stated:
“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city as I had appointed thee.” (Titus 1:5)
We can understand from this letter that setting in order (organizing) the things that are wanting in the Church of God is essential. All institutions (organizations) operating in the world have got various types of organizational features and structures depending on which sector they are operating. The Church also has got its own organizational feature and structure as set out by its creator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Organizational feature and structure of the church can’t be copied from the world, neither the world can copy the church’s organizational feature and structure. This is because the church doesn’t look like any institution in the world.
In Ephesians 1:22-23, it is written:
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all”.
In 1st Corinthians 12:12-13, it is written:
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit”
In Galatians 3:27-28, it is written:
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”
Based on these and such other wonderful words of the Lord we can boldly say that there is no institution, nor can there be any like the church, which is typified by “one man”. In short, whether the members of the church could be in millions or billions, the Lord has established his church as a “single man”. Each and every believer is typified by a single member of the body of one man (1st Corinthians 12:14-31). Unlike the church, any institution in the world exists and operates as an institution due to the rules and regulations, including its organizational structure. In the case of the church, even though it can have an organizational structure, that can’t define the essence and existence of the church. The life and existence of the Church is Jesus Christ, who is more than any law and organizational structure. The church exists and continues to exist as a living being only in so far as it keeps on being “the fullness of him (Christ) that filleth all in all”.
The organization of the church is done based on this fundamental biblical truth. As a single human being has got only one head, the church also has got one head, who is the Christ. He also gave and always gives ministers to his church.
In Ephesians 4:11, it is written:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers”
In Acts 15:2, 6-7, it is written:
“When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question… And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us that the gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe”.
When we carefully and closely watch unto such words of the Lord we can understand that although there could be various issues of dissention and dispute in church’s ministry and life, God has provided ministers and elders in the church, with the appropriate grace to make sound decisions on any controversial matters. We also see that there is a Peter, again chosen to be one among the elders and ministers as their leader.
As we also observe from reading the four gospels, while Jesus Christ was on his earthly ministry for that short period of time, there was peter, chosen with the word of “…thou art Peter … And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven”, very close to Jesus. Then we see the other three, the two surnamed ‘Boanerges’ (James and John), together with Peter, relatively more close to Jesus than the other apostles. Then we see the twelve apostles. Further, we also see the next seventy chosen one. Still going further, we see the multitude of Christians following Jesus.
An important spiritual lesson that we can learn from this is that a successful/fruitful ministry in the kingdom of God (the Church) calls for having an appropriate order (or organizing) beginning from having the one peter all the way down to the whole body of Christ. Based on this truth, Apostolic Church of Ethiopia believes in having one General Pastor, who leads the whole body of Christ, by receiving direction from the Lord and being subject to Christ. Although the title given to that person is “Chief Administrator”, the church has always one leader under Jesus Christ, his role being to lead the flock in the will and spirit of the Lord in accordance with the word of God.
As the Lord chosen Moses in the Old Testament and gave to his people to lead them in the will of God, so is true in the New Testament. When Moses was not able to bear the burden of the people he cried to God and God told him to choose seventy (70) elders among the people and bring them to the tabernacle before the Lord. Then, the Lord took the same spirit of Moses and put it upon them and arranged a system whereby Moses shared the burden with those seventy elders in leading the Israelites to their ultimate destination (See Numbers 11:16-30).
In the same spirit, in the organized ministry of Apostolic Church of Ethiopia, there is a Pastor amidst the people of God at the bottom to lead them in the Lord’s pasture. There can be no single sheep not having a pastor, unless it is a sheep astray. This is the major ministerial arrangement at the bottom, which is called the local church. From there up until the General Pasor (Chief Administrator), four tiers of administrative structure are arranged, which helps all the flock to follow Jesus in one spirit and led by one vision coming from him through the General Pastor. Every saved soul is grafted into the one body of the church, drinks from the one well of the living water, takes part in sharing the one bread and becomes a living soul.
The General Pastor (or Chief Administrator), being at the top ministers as Moses, supported by the eleven (11) executive board members who are beside him, one of whom is his direct Assistant. Then, there are about fifty (50) general board members, who are leaders of many pastors and saints. All of these have got their own defined duties and responsibilities in the body performed in one spirit. This organized body of Christ (the church) operates as one man, not because of fear of rules and regulations, but because their life is Jesus Christ and they don’t want to get detached from him, in which case they lose life. However, this does not mean that this complex body of Christ exists and operates without rules and regulations. Rather, there is a strong set of rules and regulations that help the body function well.
So, the Church of the Lord Jesus, when viewed from social perspective it is a well-organized strong institution. But, when viewed from the biblical and divine perspective it exists as one man, having one head and several members of the body knitly joined together, as the arm/the leg or any other member is on the body.