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18th Edition ( 3 ) - Organization & Authority
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Chapter 3:      Organization and Authority
page 26 to 31
Church organization is based on God's principles. “Never allow anyone's ideas to unsettle your faith in regard to the order and harmony which should exist in the church . . .The God of heaven is a God of order, and He requires all His followers to have rules and regulations, and to preserve order.” — 5T 274.
Biblical Basis for Organization
When God called the children of Israel out of Egypt and chose them as His peculiar people, He provided for them an impressive system of organization to govern their conduct in both civil and religious matters.
“The government of Israel was characterized by the most thorough organization, wonderful alike for its completeness and its simplicity. The order so strikingly displayed in the perfection and arrangement of all God‟s created works was manifest in the Hebrew economy.  God was the center of authority and government, the sovereign of Israel. Moses stood as their visible leader, by God‟s appointment, to administer the laws in His name. From the elders of the tribes a council of seventy was afterward chosen to assist Moses in the general affairs of the nation. Next came the priests, who consulted the Lord in the sanctuary. Chiefs, or princes, ruled over the tribes. Under these were 'captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens,' and, lastly, officers who might be employed for special duties.” — PP 374.
The New Testament church showed the same perfection in its organization. Christ Himself, who formed the church (Matt. 16:18), “set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased” (1 Cor. 12:18). He endowed them with gifts and talents adequate for the functions devolving upon them and organized them into a living, working body, of which He is the head.
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:4, 5). “And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18).  ( page 27 )
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.” “For as the body is one and has many members, and but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:4, 5, 12, 27, 28).
Importance of Organization
Just as there can be no living, active human body unless its members are organically united and functioning together, so there can be no living, growing, prospering church unless its members are organized into a united spiritual body, all performing their God-given duties and functions under the direction of a divinely constituted authority. Without organization no institution or movement can prosper. A nation without organized government would be chaos.  A business enterprise without organization would fail. A church without organization would disintegrate and perish.
For the sake of the Church‟s healthy development and for the accomplishment of her task of carrying the gospel of salvation to all the world, Christ gave it a simple but effective system of organization. Success in her endeavors to achieve her mission depends on loyal adherence to this divine pattern.
“Some have advanced the thought that as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization. But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man's being independent.”—TM 489.
“Oh, how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings and to refute claims not endorsed by the word of God! We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time.” — TM 489.
Purposes of Organization
“As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be ( page 28 ) carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable.” — TM 26.
“As members of the visible church, and workers in the vineyard of the Lord, all professed Christians should do their utmost to preserve peace, harmony, and love in the church. Mark the prayer of Christ: 'That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.' The unity of the church is the convincing evidence that God has sent Jesus into the world as its Redeemer.” — 1 5T 619, 620. 
The New Testament Model
The Savior's commission to the church to carry the gospel to all the world (Matt. 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15) meant not only preaching the gospel but ensuring the welfare of those who accepted that message. This involved shepherding as well as housing the flock and also meeting relationship problems. Such a situation called for organization.
At first the apostles constituted a council that directed the activities of the church from Jerusalem (Acts 6:2; 8:14). When the company there became so large that the administration of its practical affairs became a problem, the church appointed deacons to care for its business (Acts 6:2-4).
Later, other congregations grew up, not only in Asia but also in Europe, and this called for further organizational steps. In Asia Minor, elders were ordained “in every church” (Acts 14:23). Extension of the work throughout the various provinces of the Roman Empire called for organization of churches into what might be called conferences (Gal. 1:2). Thus, step by step, organization grew in the early church. As needs arose, God directed the leaders of His work so that, in counsel with the church, they developed a form of organization that safeguarded the interests of the work. 
Church Organization Today
The Seventh-day Adventist form of governance is representative, which recognizes that authority rests in the membership and is expressed through duly elected representatives at each level of organization, with executive responsibility delegated to representative bodies and officers for the governing of the Church at each separate level. This form of governance recognizes also ( page 29 ) that ordination to the ministry is recognized by the Church worldwide.
“Every member of the church has a voice in choosing officers of the church. The church chooses the officers of the state conferences. Delegates chosen by the state conferences choose the officers of the union conferences, and delegates chosen by the union conferences choose the officers of the General Conference. By this arrangement every conference, every institution, every church, and every individual, either directly or through representatives, has a voice in the election of the men who bear the chief responsibilities in the General Conference.” — 8T 236, 237.
The present organizational system of the Church resulted from a developing theological understanding of the mission of the Church, membership growth, and the Church's geographic spread. Representatives of conferences met in 1863 to organize the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
There are several organizational levels within the Church leading from the individual believer to the worldwide organization of the work. Membership units in each of these levels periodically convene formal business sessions known as constituency meetings or sessions. (The constituency meeting or session of a local church is generally referred to as a business meeting.) In Seventh-day Adventist Church structure, no organization determines its own status nor does it function as if it had no obligations to the Church family beyond its boundaries. 
Outline of Denominational Organization
1. Local Church — A group of members in a defined location that has been granted, by the constituency of a conference in session, official status as a church.
2. Local Conference — A group of local churches, within a defined geographical area, that has been granted by action of a division executive committee at midyear, yearend, or division council meeting, official status as a Seventh-day Adventist local conference / mission / field and subsequently accepted, at a union constituency meeting, into the sisterhood of conferences/ missions. (See p. 20.)
3. Union of Churches - A group of churches, within a defined geographical area, that has been granted, by the General Conference Session, official status as a union of churches with either conference or mission status.
4. Union Conference / Mission - A group of conferences, within a defined geographical area, that has been granted, by a General Conference Session, official status as a union conference / mission.
5.  General Conference and its Divisions - The General Conference ( page 30 ) represents the worldwide expression of the Church. Its constituent membership is defined in its Constitution.  To facilitate its worldwide activity, the General Conference has established regional offices, known as divisions of the General Conference, which have been assigned, by action of the General Conference Executive Committee at Annual Councils, general administrative oversight for designated groups of unions and other Church units within specific geographical areas.
under construction - - but you can continue on the other page for Chapter 3
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