Effective Stewardship

Ruled by the Minority

Ken Williams

Churches are not democracies by any means. Most have a form of government which is representative in nature. Even Baptist churches, which Jerry Clower describes as the “purist form of a democracy on earth in terms of their business meetings in which every voice which wishes to speak is heard,” actually use to one degree or another a rep­resen­tative form of church govern­ment.

But churches are peculiar. Because they desire to be truly Christian in their approach to people, and be­cause there is usually a strong em­phasis on harmony and consensus-building, churches sometimes allow minority views to rule the day on any given subject. Although church leaders may have gone to great lengths to research their proposals, and while the over­whelming major­ity may agree with a proposed plan of action, the minority may ac­tually prevent action from taking place by their objections. And the desire for harmony in the church is so strong that frequently, the minority prevails.

Sometimes this happens concern­ing the “Effective Stewardship” pro­gram. Here’s the scenario. A church begins using the program with the hope that it will bring about an im­provement in overall giving trends in the church. And although church leaders realize the program isn’t “fund raising” per se, some begin the program with the expecta­tion that it will have an immediate result, such as a substantial in­crease in the next Sunday’s offering.

Sometimes that does happen, and the results can be dramatic. One of the churches using the “Effective Stewardship” program, for example, saw its contributions increase 100% in six months. More often than not, however, the effect (and the effec­tiveness) of the “Effective Steward­ship” program is long-term in nature. In fact, sometimes the full benefit is not felt for several years. Some­times, though, when there is not an immediate cause-effect relationship between use of the “Effective Stew­ardship” program and financial sup­port, the minority begins to speak against it.

Whether your church fits this de­scription or not, be careful that you are not ruled by the “tyranny of the minority.” Yes, it is important for various (and sometimes dissenting) viewpoints to be heard. Yes, it is im­portant to build a consensus for plans and actions in a church. Yes, it is crucial in our dealings with one another in the church that we be­have in a Christ-like manner as those who are Christians.

But beware lest you allow the mi­nority to rule the church and thereby to prevent it from accomplishing all that God has set before it.

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