Governance means getting things done.
This is true of general social life, and it is also true of church life. Governance also involves organization, which means the organizing of things into a functioning, coherent whole with rules, regulations, and structures designed to facilitate a task at hand. Authority is also critical to governance. At the practical level of church life, who has authority to authorize things and who can be authorized to do things? Different answers to these questions have led to different forms of church governance.
Seventh-day Adventists have a representative system of church governance. Ideally, leadership acts only as representatives, receiving delegated authority and responsibilities from the membership. It is not simply enough to show that a system of church governance is based on Scripture; the exercise of authority within the system must demonstrate sensitivity to biblical values.
Look at Acts 15:1-29. What can we learn from these verses about some key principles that are involved in church organization and governance?
Whatever we can learn from these verses about church governance, one point should be clear: church organization needs to be centered around the advancing spread of the gospel. Biblically, church governance is only as good as its promotion of mission and evangelism.
We need to remember, too, that though Christ exercises His authority through His church and its appointed officials, He has never handed over His power to them. He retains the headship of the church (Eph. 1:22). The early church was conscious of the fact that they could not exercise any authority independently of Christ and His word. In Acts 15:28 it was important to the assembly that what they decided “seemed good to the Holy Spirit” (NKJV) the true representative of Christ. Holders of offices in the church today cannot act differently.
How willing are you to serve others? Think deeply about your own motives and what they are in regard to what you do in the church, regardless of whatever position you might hold. What are these motives, and how can they be more in harmony with the principles revealed in the Word?