All Christian leaders are also followers – followers of Christ. This basic fact should not only mean that all Christian leaders operate in line with Christ’s teaching, but also that no church leader is the top of the tree and has absolute authority. Everything is done under Christ, the chief shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).
In the New Testament, we observe that elders are put in place to run local churches. In Titus we can see that this task was given by the Apostle Paul and implemented by Titus himself in many towns (Titus 1:5). So, we observe oversight of the overseers/elders!
The Apostle Peter, although clearly above local leaders, placed himself beside them. For he writes to local church elders as ‘a fellow elder’ (1 Peter 5:1). This indicates his humility, and he explicit a call for their humility too, ‘Be shepherds of God’s flock…being eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock’ (1 Peter 5:2-3).
Pulling these threads together, the Anglican church operates with a structure and spirit based on what we observe in the Bible. And in the promise below I pledge to be obedient to those ministers over me.
Will you reverently obey your ordinary and other chief ministers set over you in the church, gladly and willingly following their godly counsel? (AAPB)
This not only brings order and obedience to the structure of the church, but also has a balance. For if what a bishop requires is ungodly, which can be observed in the actions of some Anglican bishops around the world at present, their leadership should be resisted.
With space for discussion with a bishop as brother in Christ and fellow overseer, but overall my commitment as a minister is to humbly support and work with the bishop for the health of Christ’s church.
In the Anglican church bishops are set over ministers and local churches for the health of the church. As brothers in Christ and fellow overseers there is space for discussion and debate with them. But overall my commitment as a minister to humbly support and work with them for good order, good doctrine and to do everything that is good in Church of Christ.
– SAM PURSELL