The local congregation as "pope"

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Michael Wrenn, Feb 24, 2002.

  1. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    I am all for local church autonomy, but shouldn't congregational decisions be made by consensus rather than majority vote? Since when is voting on the will of God scriptural? And what about the tyranny of a local majority? Shouldn't the rights of a minority be somehow protected?

    I think there should a "Council of Soul Liberty" at the associational, state, and denominational level which will try to protect the rights of individuals and minority groups against the tyranny, exclusivity, and "popery" of the local congregation. Congregations should not have the authority to fire pastors for any or no reason; pastors should have some protection. Pastors should be free to praech what god has laid on their hearts instead of being subject to congregational whims and power blocs--otherwise, pastors are no more than hirelings.

    Also, if a woman feels called to ordained ministry and can't find a local congregation that will support her, she could apply directly to the Council of Soul Liberty. They could either directly certify her as a ministerial candidate or refer her to a supportive congregation.

    If such a council existed at the denominational level, it would assure that no theological viewpoint in the denomination--fundamentalist to liberal--could rule over any other, thereby assuring the opportunity for true liberty of conscience.
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    You sound rather Presbyterian in this approach, Mr. Wrenn. As for a concensus, in my own church, most decisions go through unanimously but if there is a dispute, I don't think you would EVER get a full concensus. Of course, bear in mind that the local church can vote to make decisions concensus.

    As for a ecclesiastical board, I think it's out of the question. Who would regulate it? How would they gain power? If we went to this kind of governing system, we would cease to be Baptist. Remember, even in affairs of the church, we are still accountable to God. There is no such thing as true "liberty," even in an autonomous body of believers.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    I am in favor of consensus, but it should be at the local level - no higher authorities created to whom a church must answer. I'm not sure that many Baptists have ever operated totally by a consensus method. But old Baptists in this area used to require unanimous votes on all important matters dealing with fellowship, etc. (for example, a person joining the church). Much of what goes for procedure in Baptist churches is based on parliamentary procedure rather than Biblical principle. A majority should not just force its will on the minority, and churches should try to reach consensus decisions to promote peace and harmony in the fellowship of believers. I believe the examples in the book of Acts would support that (e.g., 1:15-26; 6:1-7; 15:22-25).
     
  4. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Dear Michael

    How have you been?

    Doesn't your church have a rule of decorum? We have one and I was made aware of it before I joined.

    At any rate, I dont thing I would like most of your ideas, especially about the not firing of pastors. Sometimes they ought to be shot and shot quickly. ;) I have seen it drug out so long as to divide a congregation. If I were causing a division in a congregation, I hope I would have the good sense to get out the way.

    Also, if you had a "Board of Soul Liberty" to protect the rights of some wouldn't it be just as apt to take away the rights of others.

    Sometimes there just ain't no easy way.

    Jeff
     
  5. rsr

    rsr
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    Welcome back, Michael.

    Among Baptists, I don't see any other way -- unless a congregation would willingly submit to some type of arbitration.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    How did the early church make decisions? The NT certainly should still be OUR rule.

    That eliminates "conventions" (PTL) or "denominations" or "bishops" or "popes". Each church made decisions.

    How? Acts 6 gives one way, with the leadership of the church in Jerusalem giving a proposal and the whole congregation "voting" on it and implementing it
    There are others, of course.
     
  7. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    Thanks and hello again to all.

    Clint,

    No, I'm not proposing a presbyterian system.

    Jeff,

    I'm not well right now--trying to get over flu and strep throat. How are you?

    You're right--there's no easy way. Congregational autonomy has its good side, but it has its bad and ugly side as well, and I've seen that side many times.

    To all,

    It just seems to me that there should be a way to both preserve autonomy and protect the rights and liberties of minorities and the individual, including the pastor.
     
  8. PreacherDave

    PreacherDave
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    Originally posted by Dr. Bob Griffin:
    How did the early church make decisions? The NT certainly should still be OUR rule. Dr. Bob, you made an excellent point, and one rarely done in Christendom today.

    The biblical rule is now a rarity, and to our shame!

    God developed a very useful and living system to govern the church. The gifts to the church in Eph 4, emphasizing servant leadership is the only viable way to take care of the church and hold one another accountable. Since when does God need to be updated to control the likes of us?

    Reformed polity demands hierarchy and the old covenant system to "keep it together." So does the Roman Catholic and other sacramental churches. But the NT does not advocate such nonsence. The local church is autonomous, submitting to itself in love. In so doing, favoritism and predudice has no place.

    Mike, read Ephesians, the teachings of Christ in the gospels, Acts, I & II Timothy, Titus and I & II Thessalonians. Look specifically for how the church conducted itself.

    We are ALL kings and priests unto our God, and none are more important than the other. Having said that, the Holy Spirit chooses those who are gifted to rule the congregation in righteousness and holiness. They themselves are also to be held accountable to the congregation, yet given greater honor because they are chosen to bring them into the maturity of the faith.

    This system actually works because the Lord has ordered it to be so.

    Preserve the rights of all? None of us have rights over the other, we are to submit to one another in love.

    A good book to read that illustrates this is Dr. Richard Belcher's theological novel, "A Journey in Purity," published by Richbarry Press, P.O. Box 302, Columbia, S.C. 29202; (803)798-6800 :D

    [ February 25, 2002, 01:41 AM: Message edited by: PreacherDave ]
     
  9. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    Preacher Dave,

    Not rights OVER the other but rights EQUAL TO the other--something the local congregation often does not adhere to or preserve.
     
  10. Ransom

    Ransom
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    Michael Wrenn said:

    I am all for local church autonomy, but shouldn't congregational decisions be made by consensus rather than majority vote?

    I assume you mean that if there is no consensus, the decision is deferred. Suppose there is an important decision that must be made, but no consensus is possible?

    To take a real-world example, my downtown church is bursting at the seams - we have a congregation of around 1300 people, enough to pack out two services and use up every parking space for blocks in all directions. We must move, and we have a building we are considering for purchase.

    However, there are a significant number of people who would rather not see the church move away from the downtown core where we have been for 70 years. One of our most important ministries is to the homeless, and it is simply not feasible to operate that ministry from the suburbs. Alternatives are being explored, because this particular ministry is considered indispensible and all the authorities in the church are committed to continuing it. Nonetheless, there are probably a significant number of participants in this ministry (and others) who think it is better for the church to simply stay downtown.

    Consensus, therefore, might be impossible. How do you resolve the situation? The church must be moved if it is to continue to function. The needs of a relative few programs cannot trump the needs of the whole assembly.

    Since when is voting on the will of God scriptural?

    I would dispute the assumption that conducting the business affairs of a church is "voting on the will of God."

    Shouldn't the rights of a minority be somehow protected?

    To which right of the minority are you referring? If you mean the right to discuss, debate, and cast a vote, they have as much right to do so as every other member; therefore, their rights are protected.

    If you mean the right to get their way, I can just turn the question on its ear. Shouldn't the rights of the majority be protected from the tyranny of the minority?
     
  11. Ernie Brazee

    Ernie Brazee
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    There is to be order in the church. When an item is brought before our church there is no "majority mandate" theissue is discussed thoroughly before there is even a motion, then discussed some more. If there is serious doubts brought forth be even one member we go home and pray about it before voting. (now there is a new concept among many Baptists...PRAYER..) If it is an important matter that needs immediate attention, it seems as though God has already prepared our hearts and the matter is decided right away. Very seldom is there a matter that needs immediated attention, though. We sometimes get ahead of God and create our own problem.

    How often is it in a church that the vocal minority are simply trying to draw attention to themselves or ar disgruntled members who just need to surrender to the Lord?

    [ February 25, 2002, 11:46 AM: Message edited by: Ernie Brazee ]
     
  12. Clint Kritzer

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    ATTENTION

    This is a Baptist Only area. Any postings made by anyone who is not Baptist will be deleted with no firther notice.

    Clint Kritzer
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