Introduction to the Bible-Based Process of Decision Making We have already dealt with the position of Jesus, who is the Head of the church, on leadership in the church. Note the following words in Matt. 20: 25-28 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Know ye that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and the great men exercise authority over them; but it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Note the words "rule", "exercise authority", "this is not how it should be among you" but rather "be a servant", "be a servant" and "serve". Luke 22: 25-26 And he said unto them, The kings of the nations lord it over them, and they that exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But you must not be like that; but the eldest among you shall be as the youngest, and he who is a leader as one who serves. What the Bible means here is not that if you are a servant, you will later become a leader. Nor does it mean that if you become a servant, you will later become a master or a master. It means with God you are first or you are great because you have served others with your ministry or gifts on earth. You are great because you never took a position but took on the life of a servant. You will receive your reward or your crown when you appear before the throne of God. This is when He will thank you for being faithful over a few things and then He will say to you: “You have been faithful over a few things, I will appoint you over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord ”. What Jesus is really saying here is that there should be no leaders in the church. He says a leader should be like one who serves because in the church of God the brothers serve one another. Again, leadership is only functional; this is not a position.
Everyone is on an equal footing and everyone has the same say in church matters. No one should impose any decisions on other people as the world does. To many people, these statements may sound a bit far-fetched. The reason for this is that we have been taught differently in the church and in the world all these years. That's all we know. How else? Yet this is not how it was in the New Testament church and the early church. On the contrary, there is ample Scripture that proves that decision-making is done through consensus. Consensus means that the whole congregation makes the decision together by unanimously agreeing on a matter. You may ask if it is really possible to make such decisions and also how will it be implemented in practice? The answer is that the Bible proves that it is not only possible but was carried out in the New Testament church. Millions of home churches today still successfully follow this method. I just want to mention that the house church "movement" is the largest Christian "movement" in the world. Statistics show that the number of members in house churches worldwide has long passed the institutional church. This just for interest. We in Western society tend to think that house churches are new or not very popular. On the contrary, although house churches have increased phenomenally over the past fifty to one hundred years, they have never really ceased to exist since New Testament times. Throughout the years, there have always been people who have clung to the teachings of the apostles. As you have already deduced, decision-making in the church rests in the hands of all the members. So it was in the early church: Acts 15:22 Then the apostles and elders together with the whole congregation decided to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. Acts 15:25
we unanimously decided to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul. In the early church the emphasis was on unity and equality: Ef. 4: 3 and earnestly strive to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 2 Cor. 13:11 Furthermore, brethren, rejoice; become perfect; let yourselves be admonished; be united; keep peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. 1 Cor. 1:10 But I beseech you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all be in agreement, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be united in the same mind and in the same mind. In this version we clearly see the “consensus” method for decision-making spelled out. Consensus is nothing more than being unanimous, deciding unanimously, being united, having the same opinion and having the same attitude. Rom 15: 5-6 And may the God of patience and encouragement give you to be of one mind according to the will of Christ Jesus. So that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one accord. These verses highlight something very important: It emphasizes the power of unity, of being one at heart, of agreeing on a matter, of making one sound as a symphony orchestra all, in time, play harmoniously together. It is unity and it is the antidote to many problems and misery. It also emphasizes that we must be united in the will of Christ. Matt 18:19 says the following: Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be for them of my Father which is in heaven.
Consensus is safe because decision-making is not in the hands of a few people but in the hands of everyone. You can imagine for yourself that if 0.01% of the congregation make decisions, the chances of making the wrong options are so much greater. This may be the reason why the church struggles so much to face the challenges of church life and deal with doctrinal issues. The history of the institutional church is littered with wrong decisions. We even see in the Old Testament what happens when the state of Israel is unanimous on decisions, which actually means they have reached consensus on an issue. This is a very powerful principle in the spirit world. 1 Chron. 12:38 All these men of war, coming together in battle, came to Hebron with an undivided heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of the children of Israel also were of one heart to make David king. Here we see that just as the whole assembly and all the people were one in heart to make David king, so too we must make one in heart, an undivided heart, Jesus Christ king over our congregation. See Romans 15: 6 So that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one accord. 1 Chron. 13: 1-4 And David consulted with the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with every captain; And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If ye approve this, and this is of the Lord our God, let us disperse, and send unto our brethren that are left in all the coasts of Israel, and go with them unto the other. the priests and the Levites in the cities where they have pasture, that they may come together to us. And let us bring the ark of our God unto us: for in the days of Saul we asked not after it. Then the whole assembly said that they had to do so because the matter was right in the eyes of all the people. David was a good and just king. Here he consults not only the rulers but also the whole assembly and all the people of Israel. He is doing something here that today's governments are failing to do. He does not make a decision that is contrary to with the people's opinion is not. Even if governments are democratically elected, they will still make unlawful decisions that are not in line with the will or opinion of their constituents. In my opinion this is unethical! 2 Chron. 30: 4 And the thing was right in the eyes of the king, and in the sight of all the congregation. Here we see that Hezekiah, who was also a God-fearing king, reached a consensus with the whole assembly. The consensus method speaks not only of unanimity, unity and unity, but also of equality. Rom 12: 3-5 For by the grace which is given unto me, I say unto every one that is among you, that he should not think of himself more than he ought to think; but that he should think of being content according to the measure of faith as God has assigned to each one. For as we have many members in one body, and the members do not all have the same effect, so we are all together one body in Christ and each separately members of one another. Jesus said in one place, do not exalt yourself, for you are all brothers. There are only two positions in the church: One is the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, and the other is brothers. One is the Head or the Head of the body and the other is the different members of the body. There is no other position. 1 Cor. 12: 23-25 And those members of the body that seem less honorable to us, we clothe with more abundant honor, and so our invisible members have more abundant grace, while our more graceful members do not need it; but God composed the body and gave the abused member more abundant honor, so that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should take equal care of one another. Here we see the function of the members of the body spelled out: Each member must take equal care of the other members. Ef. 4:16 From whom the whole body - well put together and connected by the support that each member gives according to the operation of each individual part in its measure - promotes the growth of the body for its own edification in love. Here we see that each member must support the body in its own way. Everyone has their function, their place, their part, their purpose. Nobody chose it. God gave it to everyone as He pleased. There is therefore no place for vain glory in the body of Christ. No one deserves anything in the body of Christ because we received everything by grace. Everything works through the Spirit of God in everyone. To God, every act that reveals the fruits of the Spirit is the same. To God, every act that reveals the gifts of the Spirit is the same. The fruits of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit work through all. What then makes us different in terms of position? Nothing! What makes us different when it comes to the fruit? Nothing! What makes us different when it comes to gifts? Nothing! The only difference between children of God is that there are different degrees of ministry and anointings of ministry. There are many reasons for this. Some people accepted Jesus earlier in their lives than others. Some people are more obedient than others. Some are on the road longer than others. Education plays a role, exposure plays a role, opportunities used and opportunities lost play a role, circumstances in different homes differ, circumstances with regard to different careers differ. Personal zeal plays a role. There are literally a multitude of factors that influence the intensity and effectiveness of different people's ministries and work in the body of Christ. Not everyone has the same privileges and opportunities in life. Of course, this is a very good reason not to judge anyone and not to think too much of yourself as Romans 12: 3 says. We also see in 1 Cor. 12:25 that God deliberately leveled the whole body. I believe it is also partly because He did not want any division in His body. He went to the extreme to ensure that all are on the same level in the body of Christ. All have the same rights, the same blessings, the same expectations and also the same say in the body of Christ. No one was appointed over anyone. Just as Adam and Eve were appointed in the garden to rule over everything, so are we. Adam and Eve were not appointed to rule over men but over the handiwork of God.
God said that they should subdue the earth and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over all the animals that crawl on the earth. Man had to rule over creation, not over other people. If the Fall had not taken place, there would have been no government or worldly systems of domination. It was part of the curse of the Fall. However, Jesus reversed the curse of the fall. He restored man again as ruler of creation. We are kings again now! Our state of dominion in the creation of God has been restored. It belongs to the children of God; to the church. No one is supposed to rule over us, especially not in the church. By consensus, God has once again built into the church what is in the Godhead. In the Deity there is no democracy or autocracy. Even in the Deity there is a state of consensus. When the church is in sympathetic harmony, God will act. In this connection, consensus mirrors the decision-making activity within the triune God, whose nature we were created to reflect. God acts when Father, Son and Spirit agree. Decision-making in the Godhead is communal and marked by mutual submission. In other words, it is consensual. - Frank Viola The Deity is truly one in heart, one in Spirit, one in opinion and one in meaning. The Father is in us and Jesus is in us. Because we also have the nature of God in us and the Spirit of God in us, we are all fully capable of manifesting exactly the same unity and attitude of God in the church as well. We are born of God and have the same DNA in us as He has in Him. We can also make decisions together in the congregation because we are part of the family of God. If someone in the house church makes his own decisions without involving the other, then he is forcing his will on the rest. We call it autocracy. It breaks the unity in the congregation. In such a case there will always be dissatisfaction in the congregation and this will eventually lead to church segregation. Even when a small group in the house church applies decision making in this way, it will have the same effect.
On the other hand, when a democratic method of decision-making is used, there will always be a group of dissatisfied people in the congregation. The majority (50% + 1) are satisfied and happy with the decision but the rest of the group is not. Why not? Because the will of the larger group is forced on the smaller group. The losers have to accept that they dug the bottom. They have to accept it because it is a democratic principle. This is life. This is how it works. However, it is never a foregone conclusion that the majority will make the right decision; even if they win with 95% of the vote. This is then the reason why democracy does not belong in the church. God has built into his church a perfect way of making decisions that satisfies everyone; consensus. Obviously, consensus will not work in the institutional church. This method of decision making does not work in an organization. It is too big and too clumsy and decision-making is constrained by institutional requirements. The reality is that decisions have to be made in the church. All methods of decision making have its advantages and its disadvantages. Consensus, however, is the safest way of making decisions because the least wrong decisions or mistakes are made through consensus. Consensus is also the Bible-based method of decision-making. The New Testament church and the early church did not deviate from this method. They adhered to the teachings of the apostles. There is no sign of autocracy in the New Testament church regarding decision making. There is also no sign of democracy. However, there are several references to consensus as the God-given method of decision making. Joint submission to the meaning of Jesus In the church, the only true safety net regarding decisions is to find the meaning of Jesus. We must each individually find the meaning of Jesus for our lives and also as a congregation. Jesus is a God of love and a God who cares for his children and for his church. The church is his body and He is the Head of his body. He has a will for everything that happens inside his body. Of course, there are trifles and almost insignificant decisions that need to be made that no one has headaches left. Whether it should be left or right almost does not matter. Then there are more important decisions and even extremely important decisions that need to be made in the congregation. Jesus has a will and an opinion regarding all those decisions. His opinion and his will is the answer! This is the right decision! We as a congregation now only have to find the meaning of Jesus every time a decision has to be made! It's as easy as that. On the contrary, when Jesus Christ lives in us and through us, then He controls us through His indwelling life. If we live the meaning of Jesus, then decision making becomes much easier. How does one find the meaning of Jesus? Some decisions are facilitated because the Bible is very clear about certain aspects of Christianity. The meaning of Jesus is spelled out for us. Then there are other aspects that are a little harder to spot in the Bible. This is where there will be a little more discussion and motivation in the congregation meeting. Then there are really difficult decisions that need to be made because it is very difficult to be elucidated from the word of God. This is where we as a congregation must strive to find the meaning of Jesus. There are three very important questions that need to be answered when our congregation has to make decisions: As you can see with regard to my reference to Scripture, the first question is: "Is the solution Scriptural?" This is of utmost importance to the congregation. No compromises should be made in this regard. The second question is the following: "Is it in harmony with the organic structure of the house church?" Again, this is of utmost importance to the congregation. When congregation members re-incorporate customs of the institutional church into the house church, it is usually the beginning of the end. Again, no compromises should be made. The living organism can again with rules and regulations, which our human institutions call, be put to death and only a dead human structure will remain. The third question we need to ask ourselves is whether the solution is a result of the Christ living in us? Do we make this decision from an “organizational” perspective? Again, no compromises should be made. All actions must be Spirit working and not flesh working. Human control should never be the consideration for decisions. Decisions only to control, control and organize are fleshly decisions. Dying in yourself is a definite requirement for effective decision making A very important lesson that everyone must learn in the church of God is that the church of God is bigger and more important than all of us. Each of us is only a member of the body of Christ. We are each a small part of a much bigger picture. We are not the puzzle but just one part of a very large puzzle. Many times we have to crucify our own selves and be willing to be the least in certain situations. This is why Paul admonished the brothers of all the congregations more than once to be one in spirit and one in spirit. It's a decision we make. There may be different opinions on a certain issue but Jesus says: “I have the solution. Seek Me and you will find Me. If you find Me then you have the solution to the problem ”. If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. The congregation must learn how to find the meaning of Jesus corporate as a congregation. This is how God wants to be found. Jesus always works with the church; the brothers and sisters. He is not a God of individuals. He is a God of a family, his family. As you have already seen, there is little room for individualism in the church of God; the body of Christ is a corporate body through which He reveals Himself to the lost world, the church is the corporate temple of God in which Father Himself made at home, and the church is the corporate bride who is the wife of the Lamb. We as individuals must always accommodate the rest of the body, the rest of the temple and the rest of the bride and treat her with compassion and respect. We should always consider our fellow brothers and sisters. They are the saints of the Most High God. We must be last and not first, we must serve and not be served, we must be the least and not the most, we must humble ourselves and not exalt, we must be behind and not in front, we must be humble be and the one must esteem the other higher than himself. This is the attitude of Jesus and we must manifest that same attitude. This is the core of the house church congregation. It is also the foundation on which decision-making is built in the house church congregation. Not only when decisions have to be made but every day with our interaction with each other this is one of the most important lessons we need to learn. This is exactly what Jesus had in mind when He said that we should take up our cross every day. He might as well have said that we should tolerate one another, love one another and be patient with one another. It is precisely this interaction that the character of Jesus builds into us. Without this type of interaction, there is little spiritual growth or character building. This is the biggest reason why senior people of fifty years and older are still babies in the Lord. They never grew up spiritually. This is where the shared community life of the house church congregation is invaluable. This is why God came to establish the small and intimate family congregation on earth and not mega congregations. Because unanimity and peace are so important to God, it goes without saying that there will always be people who will have to die within themselves during decision-making sessions and concede to the point of view of others. Sometimes you just have to be the least. Paul told the congregations in several places to be submissive to one another. He actually tells them the following: “Allow others to love you persuaded". "Be compliant." "When someone gives you advice, be persuasive." Consensus or unanimity can not be reached if Paul's advice is not followed. Usually elders' counsel is good and the young in the Lord can only act safely by being persuasive. On the other hand, it is not a foregone conclusion that the elders' advice is correct. It is precisely for this reason that elders do not have the right to impose their will on the rest of the congregation. They must also be persuasive. Consensus must be reached by everyone in the congregation. No one may be eliminated. What do we do if consensus is not reached? In such a case, the “status quo” must be maintained until consensus is reached. The change may not be implemented. If it is about implementing a new issue or aspect then it may not be implemented until consensus is reached. If it is about changing or discontinuing an old issue or aspect then it may not be discontinued or changed until consensus is reached. The meeting had to be adjourned several times until a consensus was reached. Usually, time can be a tool to finally reach a consensus. In such a case, the attitude and spiritual maturity of the congregation are tested to the limit. This is where God actually shows us what is in us. Here then come things that we did not know were in us. These are also good breeding grounds for character building that we should not let pass us by. And if we are willing to refuse in these circumstances that doctrinal differences drive us apart, then God can weave us together as a unit so that nothing will be able to separate us. If the church kicks in here and reveals the attitude of Jesus and every church member is willing to die in himself, the following will become a reality:
The congregation will and will always reach consensus. Everyone will be happy with the decisions that have been made, even if it is not what everyone initially wanted. Due to the nature of the matter, some members will be more enthusiastic than others, but there will still be an attitude of satisfaction. The church is going to be spiritually enriched and stronger than it was when they started. The congregation will be a closer unit. It will be a corporate decision because consensus has been reached. For this reason, everyone will take ownership and responsibility for the consequences of the decision. There will be no murmurings or sour grapes, for the whole congregation owns the decision that has been made. There will be a sense of fulfillment because the church has sought and found the meaning of Jesus. God will surely announce to them that this victory has pleased Him. Not only about the right decision but also about how the decision was made. Unity, community, love, acceptance and participation are even more important in the Christian community than the decisions that have to be made. For God, it is actually more important in what attitude the decision-making process was carried out than the decision itself! Consensus is not always easy No one can deny that consensus is not always the easiest path. It always comes at a price to carry out the will of God. However, this is without a doubt the right path: The responsibility rests on each congregation member to seek the meaning of Jesus. Every believer must learn to wrestle patiently with one another in love until the meaning of Jesus is found corporately. How do we wrestle in love? Gently but firmly. We do not hurt each other.
It builds the congregation. It cultivates patience. It cultivates mutual love and respect. It limits the flesh and self retribution. It promotes the taking up of the cross of Christ. It promotes the "dying in yourself" in terms of own will and agendas. It is absolutely worth the price. It gives God the opportunity to work with us. Wrong decisions are eliminated very effectively due to the dynamics and nature of consensus (Decisions are postponed until consensus is reached). It requires strong relationships. It requires mutual love. It requires devotion to others more than the desire to persuade or derail them. Consensus recognizes that love, unity, relationships, communication, and participation are more important than quick decisions. Consensus cultivates an attitude of togetherness. It promotes the sense of community and cohesion. If a congregation may not be able to reach a consensus, they may refer the matter to one or two of the five ministers who can help them reach a consensus. However, this should only be done if there is no hope left to reach consensus. This is actually a sign of the spiritual immaturity of the congregation concerned and the fivefold ministers will unfortunately have to help in such a case. I just want to say a few last words about consensus, or maybe I should rather let Scripture itself speak about the wisdom that is in God and that He has made available to us freely through His Spirit, His word and His Son: 1 Cor. 2: 9-16 but as it is written, That the eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither come up into the heart of man, that God hath prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed this to us through his Spirit, for the Spirit examines all things, including the depths of God. For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him? So also no one knows what is in God except the Spirit of God. However, we have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is of God, that we may know what God hath bestowed upon us by grace. Of this we also speak, not with words that teach human wisdom, but with those that teach the Holy Spirit, so that we compare spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he can not understand it, because it is judged spiritually. But the spiritual man does judge all things; himself, however, he is not judged by anyone. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the meaning of Christ. Discipline in the home church The whole congregation is responsible for maintaining discipline in the house church. Just as there is informal interaction in the natural family, it also takes place in the spiritual "family". It is almost obvious that someone is going to transgress somewhere and also it goes without saying that transgressions must be shared. Violations can not be overlooked because it can lead to further problems and dissatisfaction. Interaction in the family of God is always informal in nature and therefore discipline must also be handled informally. It should never be a protracted traumatic and formal experience for anyone. The purpose of disciplinary action is to bring about unity and peace in the congregation: 1 Cor. 1:10 But I beseech you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all be in agreement, and that there be no division among you, but that ye be united in the same mind and in the same mind. The whole book of Corinthians is a "plea" of Paul in which he urges the church of Corinth and motivates him to maintain discipline in the church and apply disciplinary action. In the book he gives clear guidance on correct action and correct disciplinary action. According to 1 Cor. 6: 1-11 brothers in the congregation may not take one another to court or court. Paul regards this as a disgrace and that we should rather suffer harm for the name of the Lord.
When someone has transgressed against a single member of the congregation, we apply the Bible-based method of resolving the dispute. According to Matt. 18: 15-17 prescribed how we should treat our brothers in the congregation: And if your brother sins against you, rebuke him between you and him alone. If he listens to you, then you have won your brother; but if he will not listen, take one or two more with you, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses may every word be established. And if he will not listen to them, he will speak to the church; and if he will not hearken unto the church, let him be unto thee as the heathen and the publican. Here it is very clearly set out for the congregation member in the congregation. He must spare his brother embarrassment by handling the matter privately. If his brother does not want to listen, there is no option for him but to make it known. If the issue or issue is not resolved, what do we do then? The man did not listen to the congregation and "I" now treats him like an unsaved person. However, the problem remains unresolved. How now made? Jesus is very clear about this when He answers a few verses to Peter (verse 22): "I tell you, not up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven…" Furthermore, only forgiveness remains. No further actions and judgment. What about brothers and sisters who are engaged in serious sinful activities? How do we handle them? Paul refers in 1 Cor. 5: 1 to a man engaged in fornication. This is a serious offense especially because the woman who lives with him is the wife of his father. It can not be allowed in the congregation. Action must be taken. Paul is very clear about this in 1 Cor. 5: 5-7 To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your fame is not beautiful. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even our passover is sacrificed unto us, even Christ.
It sounds bad but Paul's judgment in this regard makes sense. If the congregation allows this type of lifestyle, it will eventually lead to the downfall of the entire congregation. According to verse 8, we as a congregation must celebrate with the unleavened bread of purity and truth. In verses 9 to 12 Paul says that we can not associate with fornicators, even though such a person is known as a “brother” of the congregation. Not just fornicators, he mentions a whole list of sins that are unacceptable. According to Paul, we as the church, according to verse 12, must judge the people within the church. Paul's last recommendation is very clear (verse 13): "Remove these wicked men from among you" It is beyond any doubt that the congregation's responsibility is. As ambassadors of the Most High God, we must be blameless in our actions and in our dealings and walk. When such behavior arises, we must convene the whole congregation for a meeting and make a decision regarding the disciplinary action to be taken and carry it out. It must be done in a very nice attitude, but there must be firm and active action. We can not irresponsibly share it. Discipline is important but so is the way we apply it. We can not only oversee things but we must also carry them out in a mature and responsible manner. An important factor that must always be taken into account is the repetition and nature of the sinful activity. Is it a way of life in the person concerned or is it the result of a person who has not yet progressed far in his sanctification process? We need wisdom to deal with these issues correctly and therefore we must seek the meaning of Jesus and therefore we as a congregation must pray together for wisdom. Do not forget; as with all congregation issues, we must also reach consensus with disciplinary action before we can implement the decision.