What Is a School? What Is a Church?

It’s been a busy but blessed week in many ways.  I appreciate the prayers of my friends, as always.

Yesterday, I gave an update on Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar/Burma.  Many of the Legacy Institute students are from various ethnic groups from within Burma, and some of those groups are being seriously persecuted by the ruling military junta there.  Many times, they have to overcome various obstacles to attend Legacy.  Getting a student visa with ever changing rules under conditions where the student is always viewed with suspicion (that they may be going to stay illegally in Thailand, in particular) results in frequent denials.  Sometimes, the visas get denied.

So, the thought occurred while praying about SE Asia, “What if none of them could come?  What would the school be then?  What is a school without its students?”

Of course, members of the Church of God are often denied entry visas (or, in some cases even permission to leave) in order to attend the Feast.  What is a holy day if no one shows?

Then, lastly it occurred to me, “What is a church without its members?”

The problem with a top-down government ruled by human beings is that it forgets why it is there.  It gets distracted, or worse it gets abused by those who care more about other things.

God the Father and Jesus Christ are not human, though.  They rule with righteousness and perfect love.  They don’t forget why the church is there.

You can criticize “member surveys”, “participatory government” or “church democracy” all you want, but you cannot say it ignores its membership, at least for long.  Looking at the world’s attempts at democracy point to it is when a “democratic” government disenfranchises a huge portion of its constituency, then it is on the road to destruction.  Democracies work, and they only work, when full and free participation is encouraged.

Let me leave you with this thought today: If the constituency has God’s Holy Spirit, is being led by God’s Holy Spirit, is honestly seeking God’s will in all things including church matters, then would a “one-man government” even be needed?  What would the point be?  What would be wrong with seeking counsel from multiple people who will presumably one day be governing the entire universe?

I wonder how many can honestly ask those questions and still say a “one-man rule” is really needed.


  1. Maybe that's why many COG ministers (at least the ones I've heard) preach against a democratic form of government. "We're a REPUBLIC" in the U.S., they'd point out.

    Yet "in the multitude of counselors there is safety," Proverbs 11:14 says.

    Does the leadership of the Holy Spirit override the counsel of others, in the New Testament church? I personally think that's a false choice, but I can see where some ministers would reach that conclusion.

  2. There will always be a hierarchy, even in the KOG, when everyone is sinless, etc. Father is supreme, then JC/Wife- firstfruits, in what I believe is the ultimate form of "government"- patriarchal. While we can speculate about "if everyone today were 100% led by the HS" the reality is that will never happen in this age of man. Hence, there is a need for leadership- apostles, pastors, etc. They do oversee the church and have the right and duty to make decisions. Of course, the oversight should be conducted with love, humility, etc. When church leadership sins/errs from the truth, then it is to be rejected ala what Paul said- follow me as I follow Christ. Throughout scripture (OT and NT) God works through leaders like Peter, Paul. It is not democracy (voting/balloting), nor dictatorship. When the leadership is strong (I cite HWA as an example- not perfect, but an overall godly man) then the Church benefits. When it is weak (the current church age with no strong leader IMHO), then the Church is weak.

  3. @Richard: Um, that's an odd argument if that is what they are saying. In a republic, the representatives are still elected, so … what is the point they are trying to make?

    @Porky: I'm not saying that there will be no hierarchy in the KOG. God the Father will always be in charge. Jesus Christ will always be second in command. Even with that right there, that is a hierarchy.

    Furthermore, even in a democracy, you need leaders and you certainly need leadership. Have you never heard of those in our government being called "elected leaders"?

    Maybe the original Apostles did not ballot (I would be surprised if they had). However, do notice how they shared all things (Ac 2:44), told the body to select deacons to be ordained (Ac 6:3) and in general discussed things to come to an agreement (Ac 15:22).

    It is human nature to allow power to corrupt oneself. I'm not sure if any of us are truly immune to it. When you invest all of that power into one person, though, you lose certain checks and balances.

    In the end, though, it isn't the form of government that God is going to judge on, I'll wager, rather how one governed. If they lose sight of the membership, it won't much matter what form of government they used.

  4. Agree that its dangerous to vest 100% power in a human church leader. But reality is, you need leadership and a top man is the best form IF the individual is converted, humble, etc and there is accountability and a true counsel of elders. When the leader errs/fails, you simply dont follow them ala what Paul said follow me AS I follow JC. Would I vest 99% in Paul? I would, but he is the paradigm of what a church leader should be. Of course, we have to vest 100% in JC the true Head. I also agree the NT leaders were transparent and had deep respect for the members and utilized them. Today the "corporate" church philosophy dominates where "HQ" feels superiority over the others, limits information, etc. I yearn for Gods Govt to come.