Life is filled with myriad decisions: Where should I go to college? Whom should I marry? What job offer should I accept? Where should I live? Each involving a constellation of practical and emotional parameters that must be considered and weighed.
For the Christian trying to tease out God's will, decision-making can be a dizzying experience—especially when, as often happens, the "signposts" do not point to one, unambiguous path.
For a church, things can be more blurry. Choosing a pastor, liturgy, style of music, or whether to embark on a building program involves multiple signposts that must be evaluated by members of the decision-making group. When the inevitable disagreements arise, the question becomes, "What signposts are overriding and whose interpretation is right?"
Bible professor Dr. Garry Friesen describes the tension in his acclaimed volume, Decision Making and the Will of God. Concerning a congregational meeting Dr. Friesen attended involving a high-tension decision, he writes:
In the course of that meeting, one lady stood up and said, "We can't vote now." When asked why, she replied in total sincerity: "I have talked with several others here who are earnestly seeking God's perfect will in this matter. Apparently, the Holy Spirit has told some of us to vote ‘yes' and some of us to vote ‘no.' How can we resolve the question when the Holy Spirit is telling us two different things."
Dr. Friesen rightly noted that desire for unity undercut this lady's trust in the protocol established in her church constitution.
Unity is trumps
A while back, I was a leader in a church deliberating over the location of a new church home. A member, who was concerned over the spirited divisions in the pews, approached a pastor from another church for advice.
The pastor's counsel? Don't make any decision that is not supported by 85 to 90 percent of the congregation. Crouching low, in those words, is the hidden dragon of riftophobia—fear that, without near unanimous support, a chosen course of action will lead to division.
For both the "congregational" lady and the pastor, unity trumps all else in the decision-making process. While neither instance involves a matter governed by explicit scriptural commands, they follow a troubling trend of those that do... Continue reading here.
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