This inset post in the midst of our current series, A Heightened Dedication, is the basic content of that letter being sent to all the different regions. The same information is being placed in this inset to hopefully help some who read this post that did not receive the letter itself. This letter was sent to each member from the individual who is over the region where they were located. In all regions, there is ultimately one individual who is responsible for an area, as a matter of organizational structure, and of God’s government being administered in that region. This is in addition to the duties specifically given their level of ordination. Some of these ministers vary in ordination and in their role within God’s government, which means that they carry different responsibilities due to specific ordinations. As an example, the regions in the U.S. and Canada primarily have senior elders who have been placed in responsibility to function as coordinators. However, in New Zealand and Australia, everyone is under a senior evangelist, and in Europe everyone is under a prophet.
Within the current structure of the Church under Jesus Christ, it is led, administered, and governed by a team of two individuals, where one is an apostle and prophet, and the other a prophet. The Church follows the pattern for government that is outlined as the primary structure given in scripture through the apostle, Paul. As in the time of the Philadelphian and Laodicean Eras in the Worldwide Church of God, there are some modern-day descriptions within that structure that better describe how the Church functions today. The primary positions of apostle, prophet, and evangelist do not vary. However, God may not always utilize some functions (ordinations) during specific periods of time.
In the Worldwide Church of God, there was never the role of a prophet within God’s work at that time. Since the Apostasy, God has been reestablishing the various roles and responsibilities that He works through in His ministry. Only as of this year was the role and work of a pastor reestablished in the Church.
At this point, it should prove to be helpful and informative to clarify the governing structure of the Church that exists in God’s ministry today.
Order and Structure of the Ministry
In the primary order and functions listed by Paul, it begins with the first role under Jesus Christ, which is an apostle. This is followed by a prophet.
There is more for the Church to learn concerning the role of a prophet. Many still seem to have a very limited grasp of this and tend to think that all prophets are given prophetic events to declare or that they are given revelation of recorded prophecies directly from God. Many of the prophets of old were given prophecy concerning future events, but most of what they were given and what they recorded was not known to them. That which they did know was very limited and often had a “type” of fulfillment that was being addressed in their immediate time, but was recorded for greater purpose to be fulfilled in the future.
However, the primary function of most of these well-known prophets, as well as many other prophets whom God worked through, was that of spiritual insight into a wide range of matters and of declaring the administration of God’s way toward those who would receive it. This was on a physical plane with the Israelites in dealing with very physical matters, but having spiritual importance. The Israelites did not have God’s spirit dwelling in them like the Church (spiritual Israel) has today.
This should not be lost on the Church at this time. Other than myself, being both an apostle and prophet, there are two prophets through whom God is working whose primary function within His Church is the administration of His ways. They are given spiritual insight as prophets to discern and then administer God’s will and that of Jesus Christ toward the ministry first, and then the Church as a whole.
As I have temporarily been removed from “direct” contact and involvement, my “indirect” contact and administration of the Church has helped to reveal (make manifest) things I would not have otherwise been able to see and learn in this specific area of government. By this, I mean that I do not deal with the administration of most matters of the Church through direct communication with individual members and ministers as in the past. Instead, I give to both prophets my input for such guidance, direction, and instruction that is to be given brethren when such need arises. However, because of this indirect administration of some matters in the Church, and the fact that such communications come directly from a prophet who is female rather than directly from me, it is much easier to see things I would not see to the same degree. That which I have seen is that far too often there is resistance manifested toward a woman, where these same individuals would not have responded to me in the same manner. Yet it is the same government of God in action. In addition, there are other matters that both prophets administer, due to a heavier work load placed on them, where God directly gives them judgment and insight to deal with various situations that arise in the Church. Again, because of some of the responses they receive, it is evident that there is too often resistance, and it is simply because they are women.
The reality is that God is now far more fully bringing to light the importance of how He governs and the necessity for each person to see Him and not just a physical leader, and then to yield to His government, rather than to resist it. God is also revealing hidden prejudices and pride during a time when He is showing the rightful role for women in family and His Church. There are men and women alike who are resisting that revelation, and therefore, resisting His government that now includes women over them. However, God is bringing this to light in each person’s life so that where it is needed, individuals can repent, begin to make changes, and thereby become more fully transformed in thinking.
The process of God bringing this to light in the life of an individual who is resisting Him can be a painful experience as one comes face to face with such reality. The pain is one where pride and ego suffer for a time until such is conquered through genuine humility and one is brought more fully into subjection and agreement with God.
The series of sermons on Personal Responsibility and Rebellion, and the way they fit so perfectly with current posts, should be incredibly enlightening, sobering, corrective, inspiring, and received in a serious and fearful manner. God is having us focus upon these things so we can come to see the need to become far more fully dedicated to Him and the purpose He is working in our lives at this time.
Now, continuing with the order of structure of God’s government within the Church, following that of an apostle, then prophet, is an evangelist. The role of an evangelist is that of being the “primary support” between the work of the apostle and prophets with that of the rest of the ministry and Church. Their role in that “support” structure is a more direct and recognized one within the Body of Christ that includes upholding, promoting, protecting, and of teaching and expounding upon the administrative matters, doctrines, and truths that come through God’s prophets and apostle.
Following the ordination of an evangelist is that of a pastor. Within the Philadelphia Era (WCG) and on up to the Apostasy, pastors were ordained within God’s Church whose role consisted largely of preaching and administering to the needs of larger localized church areas. During that time, this role was given to those who were classified as preaching elders and pastors, where pastors were of a higher rank than preaching elders. This administering to the needs of a congregation generally involved working more directly in a one-on-one manner of counseling, giving guidance (direction and/or correction) to others, as well as much preaching through sermons and bible studies. The counsel, guidance, and/or intervention in some people’s lives was needful in times of trial, wrong behavior, family problems, unease or problems between members, and other areas of life where intervention from the ministry was needful. Such intervention on a more personal plane and with direct contact was necessary in order to help produce greater unity, peace, order, and oneness within the Body of Christ.
In local regions in the past, this role of pastor was enhanced through preaching, as many of the situations that would arise that needed guidance of a pastor could be addressed to some degree in Sabbath sermons. This aided a pastor with the ability in a larger localized church environment to address some of these matters that needed to be dealt with in a congregation when such situations were occurring within an area. This often included covering spiritual areas dealing with various kinds of sin in life, family matters, fellowship among the members, etcetera. Preaching was also a needful way to address certain topics during those periods, which was the primary means of nurturing the Church each Sabbath.
Only since the fall holy day season this year has the role of pastor been reintroduced to God’s Church. This is part of setting the stage and making preparations for the Millennium. It is also to assist the Church now in being able to address such matters more directly in whatever scattered area they arise. This role at this time can be perfectly fulfilled as a more direct means of pastoring/shepherding specifically where needed, with no need for public preaching to enhance that role in any specific congregation as in the past.
God has qualified a woman to carry out such duties now for a three-fold purpose. First, it is because of the help that is needed now within the Church that can be administered through this role. Second, it is also to reveal that such a role can actually be effectively fulfilled without the aspect of preaching. Third, it is to reveal the need for women to serve in such a capacity and not just men. Both are needed in order to far more effectively fulfill the need of such a function due to the kind of varying and specific needs that sometimes arise simply because of different situations, circumstances, and experiences.
Lastly, we come to the ordination of elders. This is a single ordination with three different levels of structure. First, there is the entry level into the ministry, which is an “associate elder.” They may anoint any member who is ill and who requests such service. They may also baptize any who have been approved for baptism by someone over them. After this, there are other duties they may carry out in service to the Church area they are in when it is appointed to them by someone over them. Such areas of service and responsibility can vary widely from area to area.
The next level above that of an associate elder is an “elder.” This is simply the next step of being an elder that carries a little more responsibility and/or duties that might be given. Associate elders and elders do not of themselves counsel or direct members in any fashion unless specifically directed to do so by someone over them. Various matters do arise in church areas where an elder will need to contact their superior to see how to handle a matter. Those over them may deal with it or direct the elder how to do so. All of this is only a simplified description that carries a wide variety of situations and service that an elder might be given responsibility to administer.
One of the primary things concerning associate elders and elders that they themselves need to understand, and the Church is to understand as well, is that theirs is an entry level into the ministry that carries restrictions, yet authority. They learn to serve and minister as they are directed by those over them, where basically, nothing in this “beginning stage” is determined or directed from self, but from the government structure over them. This is where a heightened training and service begins for a minister.
It might be helpful to explain a little more about the role of an associate elder and elder, especially when considering God’s structure of government in a church area. Essentially, there is no government authority carried by such elders except for specific occasions where they are assigned to carry out some function or responsibility given to them by a senior elder or by some other minister that is above a senior elder. Of course, members are to respect and support whatever the associate elder or elder has been given to fulfill as their duty. Associate elders and elders do not counsel or expound on doctrine unless given the responsibility to do so in a specific case. If someone has doctrinal or Biblical questions they may go to an associate elder or elder who may then direct them to some sermon, topic, or other publication that will give an answer. If associate elders or elders have questions where they need help in dealing with any Church matter, then they simply contact the minister who is assigned over their region. As mentioned before, that may be a senior elder, senior evangelist, or prophet. It should also be noted here that associate elders are not “under” elders, as elders do not pass along responsibilities or duties to an associate unless told to do so by those who are over them, and then it would be communicated that they were asked to pass along such information.
Thirdly, there is the function of a “senior elder.” Here, there are far more responsibilities and duties that are entrusted to a minister. By this point, an individual has learned more fully how God’s government functions and one knows that if they are uncertain about how to administer a matter that they will go to those over them to find out. Other normal routines have been learned and when a person knows what to do, they can simply do it. They have been learning to not rely upon self (one’s own opinions or ways), but to rely on what they have been taught concerning how to administer specific areas of God’s government.
Senior elders may be given a certain region to help administer in that area for the Church. They may be given other administrative duties that are a matter of direct Church Administration. Simply put, senior elders have an important role in helping to carry out duties for the administration of God’s government and ways in His Church.
Reasons for Restructuring
The experience in the Church concerning the ministry during the Worldwide Church of God and up to the time of the Apostasy was that an ordination, or specific office in the ministry, was mostly viewed as a life-long placement. However, since that time, God has had a different design and purpose in what He is working within the Church. Big changes within the ministry began to be made in 2007 and 2008. Now God has once again been leading us to make numerous changes through a streamlining of the ministry in order to better serve His specific reason and purpose for such changes. As He does so, we are simply to learn from it and support it.
Since just before this past fall holy day season up until now, there are over 50 ministers who have been directly affected by these changes and reorganization. The largest group this is affecting consists of those who are being removed/retired from the ministry. There are others being moved from sr. elders to elders, and from elders to associate elders. Within this period of time, God has also been ordaining a few to new placements within the Body to enhance the administration and service of His Church.
As a whole, God is now preparing and training a group within the ministry who will become quite active as we go into the final stages of this end-time. Many of these are simply being readied for specific responsibilities once the Millennium is established.
As we approached May of 2012, many within the ministry were beginning to slow down as a result of age and/or a matter of health issues. That has only become magnified as time has continued on and will become far more of an issue now that we know Christ’s actual coming is in 2019. Such issues dealing with health and/or age have simply restricted many from carrying out certain duties. This would also likely restrict them from being able to serve in what is coming.
The reality is that there is much that is coming upon the world that is going to require a new generation in the Church to deal with it. God is not placing that weight upon an older generation or upon anyone with certain physical limitations. It is time for a new group to fight in the forefront and to be molded into what God has planned for them in the Millennium. This group that is older and/or dealing with more serious health issues are those who comprise the largest number being directly affected by these changes. It is within this group that many are being removed/retired within the ministry.
There are also other reasons some are being removed/retired from the ministry or being moved to a reduced role. For a few, it is simply a matter that the need for such service as a minister does not or will not exist where they are located. In other cases, it is a matter of stepping aside so that others can be inserted who need the experiences that can only be gleaned, learned, and molded into them by serving for a period of time in the ministry. This is God’s work in us and it is by His design. God uses many means to mold and fashion those things that are necessary to prepare us for specific places within the temple and within the structure that will be the foundation for the Millennium.
Lastly, and affecting a very few, these changes are a result of correction and should lead one to a renewed sense of urgency, soberness, and pursuit of greater spiritual alertness and growth.
This is a great “Year of Dedication” for God’s Church. This streamlining of the ministry should work to enlighten, sober, encourage, motivate, and serve to help each one of us to focus more fully on the incredible importance of this special year. The changes addressed in this letter, along with the current series of sermons being given by the senior evangelists, and that which is contained in the current posts, is serving to strongly propel us into this coming year in a very positive and powerful manner.
The Church is deeply thankful for all those who have faithfully been serving within the ministry. So much of the strength of the Church is dependent upon such faithfulness and true spirit of service they give toward God’s people. This thankfulness is extended to those who are continuing in the ministry and those who have given of themselves for so many years and are now being removed/retired from direct ministerial service, but who will most assuredly continue to be a strength and stable example to God’s people in the Church areas they are located.
Changes In Your Region
Each region has been or is being notified of those ministers who are currently serving in it. This will serve to keep everyone informed of the government structure within the ministry in his or her region and who is part of that structure. This is not a time for anyone to try and figure out or speculate the reasons for those who have been removed/retired or given less responsibility. It should be a simple matter of humble acceptance and support on each person’s part of what God does in His Church.