You hear about the silly church that split over the color of the carpet. “How ridiculous!” you say—until the decorating committee in your church wants a burnt orange carpet and your daughter is planning her upcoming church wedding in bright pink.
I believe the biggest threat to church unity is personalities that see every decision as wrong vs. right, and they’re right! Some issues are moral issues. The virgin birth of Christ, the infallibility of Scripture, eternal security of the believer—these are important doctrinal issues that I could not, in good conscience, compromise. But I’m not talking about moral issues, things that are morally or Scripturally right or wrong.
Most issues are not a matter of right versus wrong, but one of choosing the best way of several options. I may have strong opinions about the color of the kitchen, when to replace the roof, or what kind of water heater to use for the restrooms. But these are not moral issues. One way may last longer, be more cost effective, and work better than another. But neither issue is morally wrong. I have to be prepared to give in on these issues even when the way I think is best is outvoted.
I believe a healthy church business meeting should allow members to voice their opinions on the subject at hand, and to state the reasons for those opinions. Nicely. Decisions should not pit one side against another with one side winning and another losing. Instead ideas should be evaluated on their merits, with members voting for the choice they think is best. Once the vote is taken and a decision is made, members should support the decision, or at least not verbally oppose it. In this way church members can work with each other instead of against each other.
When have I said too much in a church business meeting? I’ve had people ask me this question. The point of the meeting is to discuss issues, find out how people feel, and make good decisions. If you’re concerned that you’re saying too much or saying the wrong things in a business meeting, you might ask yourself these questions:
- Am I dominating the discussion by saying a lot more than other people?
- Am I stating my opinions nicely, and giving my reasons for them, without representing my view as the only right view?
- Do I keep repeating something I’ve already said, even if I use other words, to answer remarks others make?
- Am I putting the ideas of others down in a personal way that demeans, or am I talking about the pros and cons of any option in a fair way?
Ask God to give you good balance in the comments you make in business meetings. Then your comments can be helpful and loving at the same time.