- High Church Model – this type of church is ruled from the top down. You’ll find these types of churches have bishops or other types of officials that control the operations of the church. (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, etc.)
- Low Church Model – this type of church is governed from the bottom up. You’ll find these types of churches are controlled at the local church level. (Southern Baptist, Non Denominational)
- Semi-High Church Model – This model is a church that is ruled from the top down, but allows some authority to the local church level. (United Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.)
- Semi-Low Church Model – this type of church is usually governed from the local church level, but has a Church government that often functions as a facilitator for the local churches (Wesleyan, Free Methodist, Nazarene etc.)
The original model is the High Church model. Because of this, the older denominations all follow this way of operation. This model takes seriously the concept of spiritual authority, as they respect and listen to those who are in places of authority in the church. Historically, the issue is that this authority has become corrupt and abused its power.
The second model, the Low Church model, is a reaction against the High Church model. The church became corrupt, and as a result spiritual authority was abused. Thus, in order to protect themselves from abusive authorities, some churches completely decentralized their power. The problem here is that churches often become isolated from the rest of the body and become very individualistic. The result is that they break down the unity of the body.
Models 3 & 4 are compromises between options 1 & 2. These models champion a mixture between the High and Low Churches as they believe that both sides have good points and attempt to blend the pros in order to eliminate the cons. Sometimes this works and sometimes it does not.
All the models have their pros and their cons and while no one model is necessarily better than the others, some can be more problematic. Personally, I am leery of Low and Semi-Low Church models only because I see divisions and fractures as a bad thing.
What do you think? Where would you put your church? Which do you prefer?