A Church's Relationship to a Cluster
Churches in COTN are governed and led by their governing elders, and are directly served by an apostolic father or fathers. This is a person, who is seen by the local leadership as their apostolic input and relational link into COTN. This normally occurs through a father/son (or sons) relationship that has developed over time, and relates primarily at a leadership level and through that, to the church. We regard local leadership as spiritual fatherhood into the local church, whereas apostolic fatherhood is leadership into adult fathers and therefore, more of a grandfather role to the rest of that church. The involvement of this fatherhood role varies depending on history, relationship and whether it is a church plant or adoption. Churches relate into COTN through a person not through a committee or a team, although that person may have a team serving him in that task when required. That person would be either the leader of a cluster or, one who is linked through a relationship to that cluster leader.
A Cluster's Relationship to COTN
Apostolic cluster leaders personally relate into COTN directly through a member of the Apostolic Council. This Council has no direct government into any local church except through its cluster leadership. It does have authority in dealing with matters arising in leadership of a sinful nature or a dispute that needs oversight ruling.
A Church's Relationship to COTN
The above outlines the way a church is cared for, served and protected, and how its local leadership lives with accountability and security. Because this is relationally based not geographical there are instances where COTN churches will be close to others geographically, yet relating to different clusters. In the area of vision, it is important that each church sees COTN and not just cluster. The whole of COTN is available to be drawn on by all the churches and it is important that together, we find vision for geographical areas, regions, countries etc. This should neither cause any insecurity nor challenge cluster relationships.
COTN’S Relationship to the Body of Christ
The leaders of COTN will continue to build relationships into the wider body of Christ. This will happen through the Apostolic Council relating to apostolic streams, gatherings and other ministries. Furthermore, this will happen at local church level as each church builds relationships within their locality, and with the rest of the body of Christ believing that God’s desire is unity. Ultimately, it is the expression of the body of Christ that is the goal and must always be our aim.