Public voting?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by bjonson, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. bjonson

    bjonson
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    Yesterday, my SBC had a public vote, right in the middle of the service, regarding a major financial decision. This is the third or fourth time I have witnessed this. In each situation, the vote has been unanimous. I'm thinking to myself, of course! Who would have the guts to dissent when the pastor/board has recommended something?

    It seems to me that churches should have private ballots distributed to the membership roll.

    What do you think?
    Brian
     
  2. Baptist Believer

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    Actually, I have the guts to vote against something when everyone else (or almost anyone else) is voting for it. I have done it at the Southern Baptist Convention meetings, at Baptist General Convention of Texas meetings, at associational meetings, and at a number of local churches.

    It tends to get you in trouble in churches where the pastor does not respect the priesthood of believers and associations and members obsessed with conformity. (I was called a "sodomite" by the lovely Christian people around me when I dared vote against changing the Baptist Faith and Message to include a "family amendment" to condemn homosexual practice. :rolleyes: I was opposed to changing the Baptist Faith and Message because of the theology of the people who wanted to change it, not because of the content (the content was not available at the time of the vote).

    I think it's a good idea, but then again, I think the problem may actually be with the church leadership. In my local church I have publicly voted against things that the majority wanted and I have never sensed any hostility from the staff or church body. If the church is healthy, the church recognizes that there can be unity in the midst of diversity.
     
  3. Johnv

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    It seems to me that churches should have private ballots distributed to the membership roll.

    I agree.
     
  4. stubbornkelly

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    I agree, if they're actually looking for a vote. If they're just looking for affirmation of their decision, then there's no need.

    I woudl suggest that, in most cases, affirmation is all that's wanted, and is requested under the guise of voting.

    A leadership that valued the opinions and dissent of the congregation would foster an environment that allowed free dissent without fear of ostracism. If they're not doing that, then private ballot should be the way to go.

    Alternatively, they could start using consensus and get rid of voting altogether.
     
  5. Thankful

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    I agree. Our church usually does have private ballots on important or controversial issues.
     
  6. donnA

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    Theres nothing wrong with just voting no. If you vote yes becasue you didn't want to stand out in a public vote, when you really wanted to vote no, you just lied. It's up to you to have the courage to vote no if you want too.
    We only have written voting for hiring a pastor or choir leader. Usually when we have a during a service outside of our scheduled business meeting it's usally for something important, like our furance recently went out, things like that. Whose going to vote no, we don't want a furnace, no heat, just let all thsoe children and old people sit in the church 2 hours at a time with no heat.
     
  7. donnA

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    Theres nothing wrong with just voting no. If you vote yes becasue you didn't want to stand out in a public vote, when you really wanted to vote no, you just lied. It's up to you to have the courage to vote no if you want too.
    We only have written voting for hiring a pastor or choir leader. Usually when we have a during a service outside of our scheduled business meeting it's usally for something important, like our furance recently went out, things like that. Whose going to vote no, we don't want a furnace, no heat, just let all thsoe children and old people sit in the church 2 hours at a time with no heat.
     
  8. Ben W

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    Public Voting is a quick and easy way to settle proposals. If somebody looks down upon you for voting against the flock bad luck. Let them deal with it.
     
  9. Abiyah

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    This congregational voting thing really frightens
    me, although I do see it as very important, very
    necessary, and the only way to do things in a
    congregation. I am glad to see what people
    have said in this topic, because it gives me
    insight into the voting process that I had never
    before considered.

    My old church RARELY allowed voting to be
    done by the members--not even by those
    who had been members for eons. Practically
    everything was decided by the pastor, and we
    just heard about it after he had made a decision.
    On those horribly few times that a vote was given
    to members, it was done by standing and/or
    clapping. In my more than fifty years of member-
    ship there, I recall only twice that we were given
    a vote.

    I remember how proud they were of the fact that
    many votes were unanimous. When a vote was
    put out to the board, it was in a closed room.
    Most of these people were yes-men to the organ-
    ization in the early to recent years, so of course,
    they all did what their neighbor did. This was
    called, with great pride, "unity."

    Only in the most recent years has that organiza-
    tion had people who were able to speak their
    minds, and even then, only a very few. These,
    however, are not on the board--the only real
    voting body. In general, thee people just accept
    what is handed down, grumble a lot privately,
    but they still attend. Amazing.
     
  10. bjonson

    bjonson
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    Katie,

    Thank you for the gentle rebuke. Yes, I have voted "yes" on a financial issue when I wanted to vote "no." This is not honest, but I am on staff there and always sit on the platform while the pastor presents the issue! Being the only person to vote no, while sitting on the platform, would be a challenging move for me.

    This is why I have a problem. The context of public voting makes it very difficult to vote our concience. I think private ballots are the better way to go.

    Brian
     
  11. Baptist Believer

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    Hmmm... I didn't realize that you were a staff member.

    Since you are a member of the staff, the time to voice your opinion is behind closed doors while the matter is being discussed, or privately with the pastor if you have not previously been consulted. Other than that, I don't think you should vote either 'yes' or 'no' in business meetings.

    In my opinion, if you are going to have the pastoral staff of the church spearhead all of the business of the church, the vocational ministers of the church should speak with one voice on the issues.

    But I think there's a better way... In my church, the church council runs the business of the church. The church body votes people onto committees and the committees bring recommendations to the church council. If the church council thinks that it is a matter to be decided by the congregation (there is a set of parameters to help them decide this), a congregational vote is scheduled. The ministry staff, like any other members of the church, can bring forward recommendations to the church council and decisions can be made there.

    In business meetings, motions can be brought from the floor and acted upon, but most motions from the floor are referred to the church council for study and before being brought back to the next business meeting for a vote.

    In order to prevent the pastoral staff from appearing to lord over the congregation, the church has an appointed moderator who leads business meetings instead of the pastor. (This was actually requested by the pastoral staff about a year ago.)

    The system works very well and fosters cooperation and communication. It gets regular church members involved in the programs and ministries of the church since most of the programs and ministries spring out of church member concerns. It also builds leadership skills in the church and assure continuity of decision-making.
     
  12. Dr. Bob

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    Routine business matters (accepting a person into membership, authorizing a delegate to a meeting, etc) can be "tacked on" to a service - providing the constitutional requirements for announcing said mmetings is met.

    [Most churches have time/announcment requirements for business meetings to avoid things being "rushed" in or handled without due process of all members. Ours have 2 weeks before announced and posted, THEN we can have a meeting to do business.]

    We live in a day with a RASH of "dictatorial" pastors and/or boards, trying to jam an agenda down the throats of the rank-and-file. One way to force his/their will on the folks is to railroad through legislation or shame them into not voting.

    I think it is tragic and a spirit of Diotrephes that is encroaching into the 21st century church.
     

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