We value unity. We believe in consensus. We have unanimity on every decision. We never make a decision unless everyone is in agreement.”
The way it’s been presented to me: it’s more spiritual to have consensus, every person agreeing on every decision, than to go with the majority when one or two hold a contrary view.[tweetthis]It’s my observation each eldership has a majority or minority rule.[/tweetthis]
Either the group works with the judgment of the most — they make their choice on the wisdom of the majority — or they surrender to the opinion of the least. They have minority rule.
I’ve seen it in elderships of three, five, and seven. An issue has been discussed and debated. They’ve prayed and asked God for wisdom. Each man had an opportunity to express his views. They gave their reasons for and against the topic. Perhaps it’s been on the agenda for several meetings.
It’s time to make a decision. All but one says it’d be best for the church to move on this issue. One elder is set against the proposal and shows no sign of changing his mind. What happens next?
Let’s suppose we’re observing the eldership of seven. Here are some questions:
- Does one with the contrary view have more wisdom than the combined wisdom of the other six? Who arrived at that conclusion? Whose wisdom determined one person has better judgment than six other elders?
- Is it the same person each time? How long has he been setting or stalling the course of this church?
- What action is this one person starting or stopping by overruling the other six?
- Failing to send a missionary?
- Not starting a plan of outreach that might touch many people?
- Failing to provide more resources to carry out the mission of this congregation?
- Prohibiting making contact or continuing discipline for a wayward sheep?
- Who came up with the principle it’s more spiritual to let one or two elders set the direction of the church than to go with the majority of the eldership?
“But, we must have unity. We must speak as one to the congregation.”
I think there’s strength in a united voice in leading a group.[tweetthis]Is it necessary for the majority to surrender to the minority to produce unity?[/tweetthis]
I read of a church with a rule to deal with this tension. When a matter came before the elders, they thoroughly discussed it. They presented reasons for and against the proposal. If they needed more research, they did it.
When they had all the information they needed to decide, they voted. If there were one or more in the minority, they immediately took another vote. According to their operating procedure, those in the minority could either vote with the majority, giving a consensus, or they could resign their position. Then when they stood before the congregation, they could honestly say, “Here is our decision and it was unanimous.” They had learned and applied the principle: not everyone gets his way, but everyone gets his say.