Friday, April 28, 2006

Submission to Authority

I was at church Wednesday night as I always am and as I was walking through the lobby, I noticed a brochure about "How to Become a Member" at Otter Creek. I'm always interested in how we're presenting ourselves to people that come in. I think perspectives on ourselves are always interesting and perceptions of how other people perceive us are intruiging to me as well.

So I'm looking through this brochure and agreeing and disagreeing with stuff, like I always do, and I come to the section called "Expectations of Members." I wish I had the brochure with me, because I'd type them all in, but one that stuck out to me was to Submit to the Authority of the Elders and the Scripture reference was Hebrews 13:7 or 13:17, and I honestly can't remember which one. However, the concept is the important part of this.

What I start to wonder about is how does a member react to leadership and/or eldership when you disagree with a decision that is made or being made. For instance, I became pretty opposed to moving to the corner of Franklin Road and Concord Road for a variety of reasons. What I did was take my concerns to an elder and gave him a letter outlining them to take to the other elders and the leadership of the church. Was that the right thing to do? I honestly couldn't think of any other way to go about it.

So here's the question of the day: If you disagree with what an eldership/leadership is deciding, what do you do? And I think this works on two levels. One is the minutiae. Little things like a DVD at the beginning of a service, or when the Lord's Supper happens, or if instruments are on stage, even if we're not using them.

The other is the big stuff like the direction of the church. What is the focus/mission/driving principle. And if you disagree with that aspect of things, what do you do?

Do you keep going with the church and just be a malcontent, or better enter into dialogue with people to see where they're coming from, even if you disagree? Or do you leave and try to find another congregation with a mindset more in line with yours?

I think congregations benefit from divergent mindsets and the dialogue that can come from that. However, at what point do the opinions and ideologies become too divergent?

I realize I'm asking a lot of questions in this post, but that's because I really don't know. I would be very interested in the thoughts concerning this.

Also, for those interested Episode 9 of the Post-Restorationist Radio podcast is available. It's entitled Maintenance vs. Mission.


Tony Arnold said...

I think your letter approach was a mature, effective communication method. I believe it was not only within acceptable practice of a member of the church, but what we are called to do. That is, go directly to the party with which you have an issue, in this case the elders, and then abide by the elders decision.

You went to them in a forth right manner and you submitted to their decisions whether you agreed or not.

Seems to me a good model of behavior for church members.


Malia said...

I agree with Tony. Though, as congregations become larger (like ours) it becomes harder for the elders to address every concern, the minutiae or the big stuff. It's at that point that we have to decide for ourselves if the church we are at is where we want to stay. I believe our elders are godly, prayerful and considerate men. I believe they listen to the chuch members when they have problems with the way things are being done, but I know they don't change their tune very often. So, if you can accept that you've been heard but that your "problem" may not be resovled to your liking, then you'll be fine with staying with the congregation. If you can't, I see two things. You can go somewhere else, but you'll probably run into the same scenario or you can work on your own attitude and try to make the best of the situation.

(I'm using "you" in a general sense, not directed at you, Phil.)

Debi said...

I had a smiliar situation where I was having a lot of trouble with some teachings happening in the church. I found scriptural backup for my concerns, and went to an elder. I decided to bring my concerns to them, since they are the "shepards of the church" and gave them an opportunity to respond. Their response (or lack of a response and blatant discounting of my concern) is what led me to leave the congregation. I felt I did what was my responsibility as a member of the congregation. Their 'response' is something they'll have to answer to one day.

Not sure if that helps, but it was my choice.

Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to Beta by: Blogger Team
Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro