Voting in the church

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by gb93433, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Anyone who has pondered the theology behind church government knows that voting is done by members who can range from non-believers who were baptized/dunked to those who are very mature. After studying the role of pastoral leadership and the theology of church government I came to the conclusion that elders should lead the church and they are to be mature believers who make disciples. Since that should be the case then why do churches have democratic voting and the majority is who holds the power to do what they want. Is that not to assume the majority are mature enough to know what is right for the church over what mature elders may decide? Does that not also leave out the rule of the elders and their authority to discipline members? So down to where the rubber meets the road. Can someone explain why would a pastor want to pastor a church where his position and responsibility can be challenged by a majority vote and not the maturity of the elders who know him best? Depending on what you read that behind this is the idea that 70-80% of the churches in America are plagued by one of more antagonists. Antagonism and division is the work of Satan.
     
  2. Jerome

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    Wise counsel from John Reisinger, who witnessed how the rejection of biblical congregationalism played out in many Reformed Baptist churches:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20091012020450/http://www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/index042.htm

    "Some Reformed Baptists, as well as others, have attempted to wed two things that are totally opposite. These men have tried to put elements of Presbyterianism into a semi-Baptist framework and managed to destroy the strengths of both systems and exaggerate the weakness of both systems. Both the concept of Presbyterian rule through eldership and the Baptist rule by congregationalism have great strengths when applied in their own settings. However, those very same strengths become very dangerous when they are put into another system. It is this fact that helps to explain the problem of abusive eldership"

    "Historically Baptists have taken the congregational form of government. They have resisted both the idea of a Presbytery past the local church and putting the final authority of the local church into the office of eldership. Baptist congregations in the past have had elders but always those elders were subject to the rule of the congregation. The pastor and elders functioned as leaders of the congregation, and as such, their views (rightly so) have great influence. But ultimately, the congregation chose whether or not to accept the recommendations of the pastor and elders."

    "It is at this point that some present-day Baptists (mostly Reformed Baptists) have departed from both the Bible and their Baptist forefathers. They have adopted the Presbyterian view of eldership and put the authority of the church in the hands of the eldership, thereby rejecting congregational rule. However, they have also rejected the idea of a Presbytery, or any authority, beyond the local church. They have destroyed the checks and balance established by the Presbytery. This is a hybrid view of authority of recent origin. It is really 'Baptist' Catholicism.

    "Here is the problem in this hybrid system: (1) If the authority of a local church is in the eldership and not the congregation (Presbyterian eldership), and (2) if there is no authority past the local congregation (Baptist congregationalism), then (3) to whom can an appeal be made when an elder acts like a tyrant? In such a situation, the eldership is a law unto itself with no accountability to anyone but its own conscience! In such a system, if several families come to the pastor with a sincere concern and he either refuses to listen or is not convinced that they are correct, those individuals are not allowed to even talk to another person after they leave his office. To do so is to be 'guilty of rebellion against God's duly authorized leadership.' Such a system is nothing but Roman popery. There is no check and balance because the eldership is ultimately responsible to no one but itself. A tyrant can have a field day and be untouchable in such a system."

    "a hybrid system that adopts a Presbyterian view of eldership and then denies both congregationalism and a Presbytery has, even if unknowingly, created an eldership that has all of the unchecked authority of an infallible pope."
     
  3. Deacon

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    Smaller Baptist congregations often only have one pastor/elder. This would present a problem.
    The solution would be an eldership rule by a group of elders, no one elder having authority over another.
    Discipline would occur within a framework of a multiplicity of elders.

    Rob
     
  4. Jerome

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    With regard to this scheme to install a caste of elders in a Baptist church:

    Kenneth Good, in Are Baptists Reformed?, p. 293

    "Baptists abhor the idea of vertical gradations in priestly privileges among believers, all of whom are equally priests before God. Baptists would prefer to speak of the "equality of the membership" rather than to isolate a group of them as somehow "equal." This could very well imply that the elders share an equality which is not enjoyed by other members of the church. In practice the custom tends to create what it presumes to eliminate. Instead of the elevation of one man above the congregation, it does the same to a group of men. Experience indicates that this is what tends to happen in those churches which operate on this basis. An oligarchy of men is created who supposedly grant an equality among themselves which is not enjoyed by other church members."
     
  5. Crabtownboy

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    Institute a consensus model instead of majority rules. If you do not have a consensus the motion or idea fails. The Baptist church I attend went to such a model some time ago and it has worked very well.
     
  6. Alcott

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    What's a consensus, Boy? 2/3? 3/4? 4/5?
     
  7. Crabtownboy

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    Oh boy, the "man" does not know what the word consensus means.

    Merriam-Webster defines consensus as:

    a general agreement about something : an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group.


    We adopted the consensus model some time ago. As I said it works very well and leaves no one unhappy.
     
  8. Alcott

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    What you are describing, Boy, is "Unanimous," or "Unanimity."
     
  9. Crabtownboy

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    You figured it out.

    According to Merriam-Webster unanimity means:


    The free dictionary says:

    The Oxford-English Dictionary says:

     
  10. Alcott

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    I already had it figured out.

    Full Definition of consensus
    1. 1 a : general agreement : unanimity <the consensus of their opinion, based on reports … from the border — John Hersey> b : the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned <the consensus was to go ahead>

    2. 2 : group solidarity in sentiment and belief
    Consensus does not necessarily, or technically, mean unanimity. I've known that since I was a kid reading about the college football all-America teams. Many players were consensus, but only a few were unanimous [made every team without exception].But if I didn't already know the difference between consensus and unanimous, your choosing to paste the definition of unanimity, instead of your own word, consensus, would have been a tipoff.
     
  11. Crabtownboy

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    Would your church consider moving to a consensus model and away from the traditional majority vote model?
     
  12. Deacon

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    Consensus among a large group is often status quo.
    Status quo is safe and comfortable, like that old stuffy chair you sit in to watch T.V.; it doesn't look good, gosh it even smells bad but you've lived with it so long you don't notice and it fits you behind just right.

    Elders do not enjoy "priestly privileges", but are specially qualified individuals, recognized by the fellowship they serve, to lead others and initiate consensus.

    Sometime sheep need to be prodded.

    Rob
     
  13. Crabtownboy

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    Hey Rob,

    Depends on the leadership and the group. I can see that is a possible danger. But if a group is really committed to following Christ that should not happen. It is true that ideas will have to be hammered out carefully and everyone understand what is being proposed. But it can work and work well.

    One strength is that a small group cannot takeover and steamroll the church. Business meetings are usually poorly attended and a single person, much less a group, can cause lots of trouble with the majority vote model. I had a good friend years ago, an elderly fellow. One day I heard him say, "I can line the votes up and not even attend the business meeting and I know my idea will gain a majority." Fortunately this man was a committed Christian and did not use his influence in negative ways. He was a good politician, had been the mayor of the city and knew how to work the votes. That cannot happen in a consensus model.

    So far it is working very well in our church.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. Alcott

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    How do we even know whether we have a consensus if there is no vote?
     
  15. Kevin

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    The worse Church government that I have been involved with was a dictatorship by the Pastor.

    They didn't want Deacons, or any other elders, but were forced to take on a few Deacons.

    They did hold business meetings to vote on things, but if it wasn't the outcome the Pastor wanted, he went ahead and did it any way. One person should not have that much power, and actually he went crazy with his power, and ended up splitting the Church.

    I can't back it up as Biblical, but I would say the Pastor should be the head, and have a lot of influence. The Elders/Deacons should work with the pastor, and when they are satisfied, then present it to the Church for a vote. A vote that only passes by a very small margin, should be returned to the Elders for more consideration.
     
  16. thjplgvp

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    good discussion. I honestly I believe either system can work as long as the qualifications of leadership described in the word of God are met and there is reasonable precautions taken with in the church constitution and by-laws.

    Churches tend to get into trouble when they begin electing people to life time positions. We are aware that anyone can get sideways in their walk with the Lord and as such create an atmosphere of bitterness and division and this can destroy the unity of any leadership group or congregation. Therefore having people subject to re-election every few years based on them meeting the biblical qualifications of their position is good. Who makes the final decision to see if a person goes on the ballot, that should be the pastor who is the senior overseer and must work closely with his deacons and trustees. If the pastor through prayer and leading concludes this man cannot serve at this time because he does not meet the biblical requirements he must be prepared to demonstrate where those areas come up short.
    This would not have to be brought to the congregation as a whole but should be able to be taken care of through a vote of the deacons prior to releasing the ballot to the congregation. The pastor would need to exercise leadership and caution and set down with the person who is falling short and explain to him what is happening in such a way he understands he is still a brother and still loved and wanted at the church but at this time he does believe he should run for office. If this matter is made public knowledge it will be because the former leader makes it so and not the leadership of the church.

    Since the pastor should have one single vote like all the other members it stays a solid style of leadership. The pastor can be removed by two or three witnesses and a congregational vote.

    In my opinion you must have checks and balances even in leadership and if those checks and balances are clearly stated in the by-laws and church constitution then you have a binding document that all are aware of and should have copies of or be able to get copies of by a simple request.

    I hope my train of thought is not to fragmented.

    thjplgvp
     
  17. Salty

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    Actually, the pastor - if the moderator - should not be voting - and (according to Roberts Rules of Order) would only vote to break a tie. In that case - he should vote against it - until issues can be worked out
     
  18. thjplgvp

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    Hello brother thanks for the reply.
    I did a quick check and found that the moderator is entitled to vote but because of his position he should refrain from any open vote where his vote can be seen by all unless his vote is needed to break a tie or to pass or fail a vote and even in this sense it is not that he cannot vote only that it is not prudent to do so. In the case of casting a ballot he is most assuredly allowed to cast his vote as a member in good standing. If someone has it on digital would you mind pasting it?

    Robert's Rules of Order (10th ed.), p. 392-93;
     
  19. Salty

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    I stand corrected - thank you
    However, within a church - if a vote is too close - then it should be tabled
     
  20. Crabtownboy

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    You ask for discussion. When the discussion lulls you ask is there any other comment. If there is no comment the motion or idea is accepted as a consensus. If there are more comments the discussion continues. If this continues and it becomes obvious that a consensus cannot be reached the idea is set aside to be examined and discussed again at the next business meeting. There is no voting the the traditional sense of the word.
     

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