INTERVIEW: How Elders, Deaconesses can create smooth working relationship with Ministers- Zonal Superintendent, Life and Power Zone

Pastor Mich 'Tunji Oladapo

Christ Apostolic Church, Life and Power Zone, Odonla Ikorodu recently appointed 25 Elders and 31 Deaconesses, totaling 56 appointees across the entire Zone, forming the largest number of appointees so far in the history of the zone. CAC NEWS caught up with their Zonal Superintendent, Pastor Mich 'Tunji Oladapo. Pastor Oladapo speaks on the duties of Elders in CAC, how Elders and Deaconesses can create smooth working relationship with Ministers, how to resolve conflict in the church and other important issues. EXCERPT !

There is a misconception about who is an Elder in CAC. Some people believe that an Elder must be aged while some believe being aged shouldn’t be a major criterion but spiritual maturity and ability to assist the ministers in performing their duties should be the major criteria. Who is an Elder as far as Christ Apostolic Church is concerned?

Going by the law of first mention, Eldership was first mentioned in Egypt and was mentioned in relation to the head of a tribe or society. Basically at that time an Elder must be somebody of age who is matured and who is a leader that people can actually obey. But now in the Christendom when we are talking about Elders, there is what is called mental age and chronological age. In the case of modern Christianity, spiritual maturity is the major factor that must be considered in appointing Elders.

Some people can be as old as Methuselah and they won’t be qualified for the post of an Elder. For instance, I became an Elder in 1984 in Christ Apostolic Church and that time I was not up to 30 years. I was appointed because they saw some certain qualities in me. My wife rejected it. She said her husband can’t be an Elder, but the authority disagreed with her. They said I must be an Elder considering the way I behaved and maturity qualified me to be appointed an Elder in CAC. At that time I just had my first child and if you want to go by the rule, I should have had children who have grown in the Lord before I can become an Elder. My first born was still less than a year old when I was appointed an Elder. It is not a matter of chronological age, but a matter of spiritual maturity. According to the Book of Acts, an Elder must be somebody full of wisdom, someone with integrity, Holy Spirit and many more.

What are the roles of Elders in Christ Apostolic Church?

The roles of Elders in Christ Apostolic Church are spelt out in the Order of Service of the church and it is to assist the Ministers of God in the areas of teaching, visiting, counselling and other aspects of church administration.

There are reports of Elders and Deaconesses giving ministers sleepless nights in some of our churches. How can Elders and Deaconesses have smooth working relationship with the ministers?

It depends upon the way the Elders and Deaconesses were indoctrinated. For instance in our Zone I don’t see any Elder or Deaconess tormenting ministers of God because we have taught them what they have to do. They have passed through enough training and they know what they should do and what they should not do. We let them know that the church belongs to God, not to the Elders. We let them know that Ministers of God are the Ambassadors, while Elders and Deaconesses are the Diplomats. An Ambassador is a Diplomat, but not all Diplomats are Ambassadors. Both the Ambassadors and Diplomats are the representatives of their country in a foreign land. Ministers, Elders and Deaconesses are all representing Christ. As ambassadors (Ministers), we are the one answerable to God. The Ministers are superior to Elders and Deaconesses because Ministers are Ambassadors while Elders and Deaconesses are Diplomats. Our relationship is not that of competition. Elders and Deaconesses are to complement or assist the Ministers.

One of the topics treated during the seminars you organised for your newly appointed Elders and Deaconesses is “Conflict Resolution.” How can conflicts be resolved when there is one between the Ministers and the Elders?

The first thing is to find out the cause of the conflict. There is no conflict that has no cause and you have to get to the root-cause of the conflict and then call for meeting.You need to call people that matter before the complaints boomerang into unimaginable crisis.

In resolving conflict, Ministers must be  unbiased umpires. You have to make sure that you treat or resolve issues without partiality and make sure you hear from both parties before you take decisions. Also, make sure as much as possible to do everything according to the rules. Elders and Ministers  must act according to the rules. The major thing that always causes uproar between the Ministers and the Elders is money and the Authority has clearly spelt out how funds should be disbursed in the CAC Financial Manual.

We give glory to God that in Life and Power Zone there is no such rancour between Ministers and Elders, and I don’t think there will be such. Conflict itself is not bad because it shows your weakness and how to mend your ways, but as much as possible, you must make sure everybody behaves within the expected standard.

In assemblies where Elders and Deaconesses are giving Ministers sleepless nights, what is your advice to those Elders and Deaconesses?

They should go back to the Bible and then know their roles as complementary because many of them get power drunk. I told them here that in those days in CAC they used to appoint Elders by anointing them with oil. But the Authority of CAC Worldwide later stopped it due to the fact that some Elders were beginning to look at Evangelists and Catechists as nonentity. They were saying that they were anointed same way as Pastors. That is why the Authority stopped and said they should only be appointed by “laying on of hand.” So Elders need to know their limits and boundaries. The church has set boundaries in the Order of Service by the constitution of the church. The Bible also has set boundary. Everybody needs to know it and never cross it.

In most of our assemblies in CAC there is always conflict between the Elders and Choir. How can this be eradicated?

That depends upon the headship of the church. In Life and Power Zonal headquarters we don’t have that kind of issue maybe because I have passion for music. I was the Choirmaster of CAC Ikorodu DCC Headquarters for 13 years. Music is in my blood and body.

Most of our Elders in CAC don’t know the role and importance of music and that is why if the Choir asked the church to buy musical instruments for them they will say the money is too much. Most Elders won’t support anything that won’t bring in money to the church. They don’t know that investing on choir is like investing on education. Education won’t fetch you money like Agriculture, but the money that it will fetch are the intellectuals that you produce. When you invest on the choir, the output or what they will produce is their melodious musical renditions. 

What is your message to the newly appointed and Elders and Deaconesses of Life and Power Zone?

My message to them has been summarised in the message of the preacher that preached on their appointment day. I also want to tell them that they should act according to what they were taught during the pre-appointed training and according to the message they heard.
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