The Church’s Business
Dr. Alan Branch has written an excellent First-Person column titled Common Mistakes in Congregational Church Government
in which he raises several important issues related to how our congregations conduct their business.
One of his contentions is that "perhaps the most deadly mistake a church can make" is to invite those who are "immature, backslidden or inactive to participate in key decisions." I agree with this assertion. Indeed, it seems unreasonable to me that a seven-year-old who was baptized last week should have the same ability to vote on matters of consequence as that of the faithful servant who has walked with God for fifty years. Yet Dr. Branch's "most deadly mistake" has been common practice in churches in my experience, certainly with regard to maturity.
The church at which I now serve has a way for dealing with this that I had not seen before coming here. Our constitution contains these items under the heading Qualified Voters
- All active members of the Church shall be entitled to vote in the Church Business Meetings, each member being entitled to one (1) vote.
- By active we mean those who attend, at least, twice a month and who support the church financially.
This goes further than any qualification I had seen before, and leads me to this question: What qualifications are proper for voting in a church business meeting? Should there be any beyond membership in good standing?
In my perfect church world, only those who are informed on the issues, who have sought the mind of Christ, and who are intent on following His will as they understand it without regard to personal preference should participate in the business life of the church. But this is often not the case, and I am afraid it may in fact be an unachievable ideal.