Monday, August 27, 2007

The basis of decision-making in churches needs to change

How are decisions made in most churches? To me, it seems that they are made on the following criteria:
1. Personal preference--people argue for what they personally want
2. Lowest common denomenon--anything that is upsetting to anyone is ruled out
3. Biblical basis

Biblical basis should, of course, be on the list. Unfortunately, it usually ranks third. There are many things that would be biblical that are ruled out because of personal preference or because somone might be upset (even though non unbiblical).

The basis of decision-making ought to be this:
1. Is it biblical?
2. Does it help fulfill the church's mission to seek and save the lost?
3. Rather than personal preference, preference ought to be given to others, particularly those who are youngest and weakest in the faith.

Paul said, "4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4)".

The pastoral concern of not upsetting people is a legitimate one, and yet should not overrule the church's mission. Eph. 4:11 speaks of a five-fold gifting--apostolic/missional leader, prophetic leaders, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. The missional, "prophetic" (calling people back to God), and evangelistic voices must provide a counterbalance to pastoral concerns about upsetting people.

When people ask about changes, they need to be educated that changes are being made in order to reach lost people and to help those who are younger and weaker in the faith. Otherwise, selfishness will be promoted as people insist on having their own way, rather than reaching others.

What patterns in decision-making have you noticed that need to change?



John said...

James, I totally agree with you on how church decisions should be made. But, unfortunately, at least in my experience, the first method seems to be applied far more often.

I don't know what can be done to change the paradigm, since that's what leaders and members have been programmed to accept as "normal." Lots of teaching is needed, but I despair that it will be forthcoming. What do you think?

James said...


Yes, the first method does seem to be the one that is usually applied, unfortunately. I suppose we must continue to preach, teach, and pray--and exhibit these qualities ourselves.

Thanks for sharing.