1Co 12:28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.
As we can see from this verse administration is placed alongside spiritual gifts which build up the church and demonstrate the Lord’s power and glory. It is more than being highly skilled e.g. having an MBA or a degree in economics, valuable additions though they may be to the exercise of the gift. It is a serving gift, an enabling, equipping and facilitating gift for the body of Christ.
In 1 Cor 14:12 Paul tells us that we should seek the gifts of the Spirit as they edify or build up the church. They are like a tool-kit to get the job done, essential to achieve effectiveness in fulfilling the commission God has given to the church in advancing the Kingdom.
How does this apply to Administration?
For many the very word administration raises negative emotions. Our experience of administration is too often of a faceless bureaucracy, form-filling, anonymous decision-making and so on. From the moment I was called to serve Terry Virgo I was convinced that this was not God’s way! If administration is to edify the church it must be different from the world’s model and experience. The Kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom. It often differs from the world by 180 degrees! So we must not be lulled into a false sense of security that the world’s model of administration is the right one for the church. Sometimes it is good to deliberately think outside the box.
The Greek word for administration in 1 Cor 12:28 is kubernesis. This is a nautical word and may be translated helmsman or navigator. Clearly it is unwise to build too much on one word or Bible verse but nevertheless this imagery has guided me over the last 3 decades as I have sought to outwork a Kingdom model of administration.
In New Testament times a merchant who wished to take his cargo between two ports would hire a vessel and a navigator. In modern terms the word ‘pilot’ conveys his role. He (or she) understands the tides and currents around a particular harbour and goes on board an oil tanker, say, when still some miles from its destination to bring it safely to the dock. During that time he has full authority on board. Such was the case in the Mediterranean. The merchant would be on board with his cargo and state the destination. But the kubernesis would then take control in order to reach that destination with safety and speed, and direct the crew to set the sails and steer the vessel appropriately.
How does this apply in the church?
Clearly the elders of a church are anointed to bring spiritual direction. There has been an impartation through the laying on of hands at the time of their appointment. It is for them to hear God and to know the vision which the church is to pursue. However, they may not have the gifting or skill to put the necessary steps in place to achieve that vision alone. They need a gifted administrator alongside them to help them achieve their goal effectively. He ministers in his gift under authority but with authority. He understands the set of the sails and the direction that needs to be set in order to reach port safely.
Sadly many churches undervalue the Gift of Administration and as a result fail to achieve their God-given calling to impact the local community and beyond with the gospel. It is a gift that is needed at an early stage in the life of a church to work alongside the other gifts and to help bring the security that allows them to function effectively. We shall look more at this aspect in the next posting.