What Is the Role of a Bishop in the Pentecostal Church?

by Marion Lougheed
Bishops protect and support the church.

Bishops protect and support the church.

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The role of bishop in the Pentecostal Church is a hierarchical one in the sense that he bears a greater responsibility to the church than other members. Bishops are in charge of administrative functions, as well as making sure the church continues along a safe path. For Pentecostals, bishops play several roles.

Appointed by the Holy Spirit

In Pentecostal churches, everyone can be touched or filled with the Holy Spirit, but bishops receive special influence from the Holy Spirit. Ordained bishop in the Church of God Daniel Tomberlin says on his site that those being chosen for this type of role must have "a demonstrated history of faithfulness and charismatic leadership." Then the "gathered church" will decide together through prayer who is to be designated as leader. Referring to the selection of religious leaders at various points in the Bible, he explains that "There was a consensus – unity – prevalent within the gathered church in the presence of Holy Spirit."

Leadership Role

One of the main functions of bishops in the Pentecostal Church is to perform leadership duties. These duties might be administrative, including acting as a go-between for the church and the state government or other officials. Some bishops are responsible for helping specific congregations or regions develop their potential. As leaders, bishops are supposed to "Maintain a high ethical and moral values in all [their] dealings, personally and professionally" and "always be willing to learn," according to the International Council of Pentecostal Bishops.

Protecting the Church

The church sometimes faces internal problems or comes under attack from outsiders. The bishop is responsible for protecting the integrity and existence of the church in these cases. In their own lives and in their teachings, bishops have to show they are "faithful to Christ, to family, to the church," according to Tomberlin. Also, the bishop has to be careful to impart a true message about the church's doctrines and belief system, as Tomberlin says that a bishop's example "becomes the standard by which Christian faith and life are to be measured."

Mediator of Grace

For some Pentecostals, the bishop is a kind of sacrament. Sacraments serve as mediators of God's grace, so that all members of the congregation can enjoy its benefits through these rituals and people. Tomberlin argues that the bishop represents Christ without being the only way to attain grace. He says, "The Spirit-filled, gathered church is a sacramental presence in the world," which implies that anybody can receive God's grace directly by being a part of the church's community.

About the Author

Marion Lougheed is a world citizen with a B.A. (Hons.) in social and cultural anthropology. She also holds a diploma in professional writing. She has visited or lived in more than 12 countries since the age of seven.

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