The Church is more than just faith, doctrine, and community. It also involves organisation. By what principles is the institution to be governed? And how can these be implemented on a global scale? This is the current focus of the Church’s leadership.
Naturally, the Church is not a commercial enterprise. Nevertheless, secular structures are also needed in order to make a common life of faith possible. That is also how the international Church leadership is structured: on the one hand, there is the District Apostle Meeting with its spiritual focus, and on the other is the Delegates’ Meeting, which deals with organisational matters.
On the spiritual side, the New Apostolic Church is well positioned: the Catechism sets forth the international standards, and the Divine Service Guide constantly provides new impetus and inspiration. And thought has also been given to spiritual leadership with the concept Serving and leading. However, there is still potential for improvement, particularly in the institutional area.
Principles and guidelines
The New Apostolic Church International (NACI) has already made it its mission to work on good governance in the most recent revision of its Statutes. Item 11.3.6 specifies the task of developing guidelines and recommendations for the leadership, decision-making, and information of the Apostles and Regional Churches.
The new Statutes entered into effect in June 2022. And by November 2022, the delegates already had a catalogue of principles and guidelines available to them. The finely-tuned paper was just adopted in May 2023 as part of the Pentecost session of the District Apostle Meeting International in Cape Town.
And here are the ten principles of good governance:
- organisational unity: both NACI and the Regional Churches undertake to promote their unity as a globally active Church.
- continuity: the governing bodies are to provide an environment that creates stability so that the Church can exercise its mission.
- shared decision-making: certain administrative decisions must be taken by majority vote in the Board.
- informed decision-making: the necessary skills are to be represented, or at least accessible, in the governing bodies as far as possible.
- accountability: accountability for decisions lies with the District Apostle and the Board.
- ethical behaviour: the members of the governing bodies are to exemplify openness, integrity, confidentiality, and respect, and act in the best interests of those impacted.
- duty of care: when making spending decisions, governing bodies are to be aware that Church funding comes from donors who are motivated by their relationship with God.
- supervision: the Board of Directors of the Regional Church is to ensure that adequate oversight is in place at the various organisational levels.
- transparency: appropriate and regular communication with Church members and the public is a requirement.
- representation: the General Assembly of a Regional Church functions to represent the common interests of the members of the Church.
Under the microscope
Now the District Apostle areas have some homework to do: they need to answer a whole package of questions that arise from these principles and their further guidelines. The board members of the leading Regional Churches are called upon to answer these questions, not only for themselves, but also for other Regional Churches in their organisational care. .
The whole process operates by a mechanism of self-assessment. If the board members discover a need for action, they draft an action plan and then also forward this to the New Apostolic Church International.
Church strategy at work
NACI has now begun to undertake appropriate measures in-house. The most recent Statutes have restricted the Chief Apostle’s decision-making powers in financial matters and transferred further responsibility to the newly created Board of Directors as a collective body.
With the topic of good governance, the New Apostolic Church is continuing its Church strategy work on international standards. In recent years this included the minimal requirements for the operation of the Church as well as the global risk assessment for the continued existence of the Regional Churches.
The official website nak.org reports on further topics from the most recent District Apostle Meeting under the heading “Dialogue on strategies and standards”.
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