Monday, 07 January 2013
@xXrEMmUsXx asked this question:
What do you think about Authority in 'church'?
This is a tricky one for me because I have a natural distrust for authority, yet, I still hold an ingrained respect for those in authority. So if my answer isn't clear, I hope you understand why. I guess I will say that the United Methodist Church is set up as a hierarchical system. We have the pastors that discern for and lead the individual churches. Above them, we the district superintendents who oversee the pastors in the districts, and above them are the Bishops that oversee the various conferences. It get's even more complicated from there and I just don't know enough about my own denomination to know how everything is split up, but there are basically 5 jurisdictions in the US. And even that is over my head. Our entire system is based on democracy. Everyone in some sort of position in the church is either voted for or appointed by those who've been voted for. And that's really how our church runs- through elections and appointments. These processes can get ugly, but that's the nature of democracy, I guess. It's important to note, though, that those who end up in place are who we believe God wants to lead our church, so this is all done prayerfully, as the Holy Spirit guides the decisions of the church. Since we believe that God puts certain people in hierarchical and positions of authority, we have to trust the decisions a Bishop, District Superintendent, or pastors (or any other board or cabinet) make. But since it's all democracy led by the Holy Spirit, there are also checks and balances in place for those who abuse their authority, or for those who just don't work out in these positions of authority.
Checks and Balances
This is all boring, so I really hope you are staying with me!
So, to make all that short, I believe God uses authority in the church, but it's also important to say that these hierarchical positions are not about power and authority. They are about servanthood. To be a pastor, an DS, or a Bishop for the United Methodist Church is not a "higher calling" as some would put it, but a lower calling. To be a pastor is to be a servant; to become the lowest of lows, as Jesus became the lowest of lows. It's this humbling attitude that makes a pastor successful in the UMC.