The right context
Knowing the Leader’s heart is a vital key to effective administration. When we looked at the spiritual gift of administration in 1 Cor 12:28 we saw how the Greek word kubernesis, the root of ‘administrating’, equated to the pilot of a ship in New Testament times. He was responsible for the ship’s welfare and a successful voyage but was also physically close to the merchant who had hired him as he was travelling on board. Just picture how, during the voyage, much discussion would have taken place, the vessel being small, and the ‘pilot’ would have learnt much about the Merchant’s business and expectations. Maybe he was even able to suggest helpful ways of increasing the Merchant’s trade from the knowledge he had gained during his sea-faring life to different ports and sailing with different merchants.
In Acts 6, also, it is likely that the seven knew the apostles’ hearts. We know from Acts 2:42 that they had probably been close to the apostles for many months for we read ‘And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers’. The seven were well known to the people – they had been recommended to the apostles by the people – so must have often been in contexts with the new body of believers. This verse suggests that such contexts included a) listening to the apostles’ teaching with great attention and b) being with them in prayer. These are two powerful ways of hearing the heart of the apostles!
Not just a ‘do it’ person
Too often the administrator is considered to be a ‘technician’, someone who just does the will of the elders. However, for me there should be the expectation that he or she is so close to the elders of the church that he (I will not always use ‘or she’ – take it as read!) not only knows how they are thinking but is also able to influence their discussions and decisions appropriately from his gifting and experience. So, in identifying an administrator I urge elders not to look so much to the skill set (not that it can be ignored) as to the character and spiritual maturity, and to seek someone who is able both to be a good friend and also to share in the meetings which determine the direction of the church at a peer level. But, even more important, appoint someone who is able to share in your meetings for prayer.
A fruitful illustration
Many years ago I remember being with Terry Virgo, with whom I work closely, and hearing him pray that one day we would be able to use the Brighton Conference Centre (UK) for a leaders’ conference.
At that stage the Newfrontiers family probably had less than 50 churches – so this was a prayer with the expectation of a long-term response. Nevertheless, at the end of the prayer meeting I contacted the Centre and paid a visit to find out what facilities they had. They were a little surprised when they asked what event I was thinking of organising and I told them I did not know at that stage!
But this preparation very quickly paid off when John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard stream of churches, booked the Centre and then asked if we could administrate the conference for him. I think his staff were impressed to discover that I already knew all about the Centre!
Following that first conference we enjoyed a long, happy and fruitful partnership with him in many conferences in the UK between the middle ‘80s and early ‘90s. Since that date we have filled the Brighton Conference Centre to capacity on many occasions and now hold the annual Newfrontiers Leaders’ Conference, Together on a Mission, in that venue.
This all came about because I knew Terry’s heart – on the occasion cited it was through listening to him communicating with God in prayer. So, Administrators, listen to how the elders pray if you want to prepare for the future!