Amongst independent churches, there is frequent criticism by other independents and denominational pastors regarding the apparent lack of accountability for pastors or senior leaders in relationship to their churches or ministries.
This criticism, sometimes valid, is one that we are attempting to correct through Vision International, by providing Council to local congregations. This brief article is written to describe what the purpose of a Council is, what kinds of people should be a part of a Council, the structure of an Apostolic Council for a local church, and the blessings that will come to the local congregation once an Apostolic Council is in place giving relational oversight for a local church or ministry.
First let me describe the purpose of an Apostolic Council. The purpose of an Apostolic Council is to provide a spiritual care by prayerfully giving necessary aid, comfort, instruction, guidance, protection, and where required corrective discipline to the Senior minister or pastor within a local congregation. The precedence for this type of ministry can be found in II Timothy chapter 3:16 and 17 and is echoed in Acts Chapter 15. The purpose or the function of the Apostolic Council is to give council, advice and recommendations borne out of relationship to and for the senior minister and his/her staff.
Further, the Apostolic Council can be called upon to help settle internal conflicts or disputes amongst the congregation and/or the leadership of a local congregation.
Thus, one of the purposes of an Apostolic Council is to assist in reviewing questions that may arise regarding the morals, doctrines, ethics, or financial management of the local minister in charge of a congregation or ministry, assuming that the process of Matthew 18 has already been followed. Essentially, the Apostolic Council shall be called into function as an apostolic counselor, advisor and a facilitator of restoration if required. Further, in the event of the death, disability or resignation of the senior minister, the Apostolic Council then becomes a functional committee to determine who should take the place of the former senior minister. Essentially, they serve in apostolic spiritual authority to seek the face of God for the purpose of installing a new senior minister.
Another primary purpose of the Apostolic Council has to do with insuring that the vision of the “house” is maintained from generation to generation. That is, we understand that churches and ministries are raised up in times and seasons to fulfill a purpose in the economy of God. Generally, the Holy Spirit gives vision, purpose and government to a local senior minister who is then empowered by the Holy Spirit to raise up a church or ministry for the greater glory of God. That vision, assuming it is a vision from the Lord, needs to be maintained wherever possible and perpetuated from generation to generation.
Of course, visions are modified- they change over time- and thus a part of the ongoing ministry of a Council is to work with the senior minister to bring about those necessary changes. But when a change of senior minister is required, it becomes the responsibility of the Apostolic Council, in cooperation with local congregational leadership to insure that the vision of the house, though evolving, is perpetuated to the next generation.
What then is the structure, governmentally, of an Apostolic Council? The Apostolic Council has no innate power or authority as a legal or organizational entity except what is given to them through the Constitution and Bylaws of a local corporation and through the relationship they carry with the senior minister. Thus the Council is actually chosen, hopefully after a time of prayer and fasting, by the senior minister because there is a relationship of trust, which has been developed with the senior minister and the members of the Council, over time.
Any member of the Council therefore can be replaced or removed if it is deemed necessary by the senior minister unless it’s in the midst of the evaluative process having to do with a complaint against that senior minister. It is assumed however that such relationship will have been developed between the senior minister and the members of an Apostolic Council that these kinds of problems will rarely come to pass.
Another question is, how many members should there be in an Apostolic Council? Well, for safety sake it is recommended that a minimum of three and probably a maximum of five men /women of senior ministry, who have fathering mantels upon their lives or apostolic/prophetic authority in their ministries, should be a part of the Apostolic Council. More than five and it becomes too cumbersome and becomes a simple advisory board. Less than three lacks the amount for adequate accountability, to insure safety for the congregation and for the local ministry.
Of course, since ministries change, as do responsibilities in the Kingdom of God, it is assumed that the Apostolic Council may also change over time. Thus, it is necessary to ensure that a Council, barring some crisis or emergency in their ministry or life, is able to serve in oversight function for that local congregation for at least a two-year period. After a two-year assignment, if there is a need or a desire to make a change, it would be the responsibility of the senior minister and the Apostolic Council to make that change.
Another function of the Apostolic Council, if agreed upon through the Constitution and Bylaws and the actual corporate board of a local ministry, is to set the senior minister’s salary, housing allowance, and benefits. In doing so, the Apostolic Council will look at the standards of financial packages within a geographical region, but their focus is to ensure that the man or woman of God in the place of senior ministry is well cared ...Click for more
© 2016 Stan DeKoven / www.vision.edu