Wednesday, May 2, 2007
13. CHALLENGES FACING BAPTISTS: INSTITUTIONAL RENEWAL
About 95% of Australian Baptists agree with the statement 'There's something wrong with the way our church business meetings are conducted'. The 5% who enjoy power-broking or have an excess of spare time on their hands or enjoy the thrill of swaying the voting intentions of others will derive some enjoyment from church members' meetings. Baptists have equated congregationalism with democracy: modern notions of democracy are not biblical. Baptists also have forgotten that the NT has three forms of church government - episcopal, presbyterian as well as congregational. Baptists have also allowed their adherence to a notion of 'the priesthood of all believers' to contaminate their polity: believers should not use church meetings as a forum to be negative. Church meetings exist for information-dissemination (what God is doing amongst us), celebration (worshipping the Lord who is the head of the church) and discernment (prayerfully finding the will of our Lord in specific situations). Whilst the method of decision-making will vary from culture to culture, and issue to issue, neither democracy nor unanimity is appropriate in every situation. (Democracy may mean the leading families rule; unanimity may leave us all at the mercy of the 'nut' who will vote 'no' to everything!).