Democracy vs hearing from God in church votes

In Assemblies of God churches, membership isn’t automatic with salvation/water baptism.  To qualify for corporate membership, one who has to have accepted Christ as their Savior, agrees with the core doctrines of the church, attends regularly, and is a tither.  You can attend, worship, give, and participate in anything you wish if you are not a member, however you cannot vote in a business meeting, nor can you be in leadership.

However, in many A/G churches (as well as other denoms), this doesn’t filter out those who aren’t hearing from God from voting.  You still have majorities of people who are members voting, and couldn’t discern the voice of God from the voice of Mighty Mouse.   These are people who sit during worship with their arms folded and have a scowl on their faces no matter what style of worship is being led.  They refuse the leadership of Holy Spirit through their pastors.    These are people who think the church is voting because it is a democracy, and they have a right for their voices to be heard.

The mentality I just described must be defeated in the New Testament church.  We vote in church business meetings, not because we are a democracy, but because we are to ensure we are all hearing from God.  It is un-Godly that a church will vote on a pastor or board member, but the members won’t spend any substantial time in prayer before the vote. 

Here’s some of what I’m calling American churches to do:

  • Repent for stooping to being democratic-operated (for the people, by the people, of the people)
  • Understand that a pastor is not a CEO or manager that is being hired.  You are to be seeking God to send His man to come reprove, rebuke and exhort (2 Tim 4:2).
  • This should be a spiritual decision, not a carnal one, therefore: In a pastoral vacancy, before a candidate (hate that term) is inteviewed, all board members and church leaders should spend no less than 3 days in fasting and prayer, the membership no less than 1 day in fasting and prayer.  If the candidate hasn’t fasted and prayed about this location, he would not be considered (do you WANT a pastor who doesn’t feel called to your city/church and is just looking for a job?).
  • People who are looking to pastor a church had better stop mass mailing resumes!  God isn’t pleased.  Get on your knees and seek the Lord for His direction on the region and community you are called to pastor in!
  • If a Pastor is going to give account to God for the souls of the sheep he has led, it should be automatically assumed that he has the responsibility (not just permission) to account for a members attendance, spiritual growth, and even their tithe record.  In addition, he will bring that into question to bring proper correction to his members (I know some pastors who will scrutinized this information and will not allow you even to sing in the choir if this isn’t in check, yet their church is exploding!).
  • If a member is caught gossiping and spreading dissent in the body, they should be sat down, and their membership priveleges will be suspended for a period of time.

Pastoring isn’t a job, and it isn’t a political office.  The church isn’t a democratic nation, it is a Theocratic body.  America is dying and going to hell because of a gospel that the people choose instead of a Word from Almighty God through His man.

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3 thoughts on “Democracy vs hearing from God in church votes

  1. dean says:

    i’m by no means an expert in church polity (yet 🙂 but in my looking so far, the only time i’ve found that the church body voted on anything was when they selected the seven men to take on the responsibility of feeding the grecian-jewish widows. even at that, all we are told is that they were chosen. this could have been done by lot rather than by election.

    i’m leaning more toward an elder-led church. i know you’re an elder in your church, but not entirely sure what that entails, but i gather from your post that the congregation makes “business” (for lack of a better word) decisions through voting. what i’m talking about is a church where the elders make those decisions rather than the congregation.

    it would be helpful to myunderstanding if you could share what elders do in your church.

    all in all, i do agree with what you’ve written here concerning congregational voting, because i’ve seen and experienced far too often what “democratic rule” in a church can do, and it ain’t pretty.

  2. T.J. Scott says:

    Dean –
    Sure I’d love to clarify what we’re doing.

    First, our church government is still evolving. Our bylaws specify what requires a membership vote… Pastoral and administrative board vacancies, as well as purchases and borrowing over a certain dollar figure (I think $50k is the threshold here).

    Our church’s government is divided into two facets: Administrative (fiscal/financial responsibilities) and Spiritual.

    Our Pastor is the Chairman of the Administrative Board. The board members are NOT deacons as many church erroneously title them. They are what make us legal as a non-profit organization – strictly business. They are elected by popular vote and are nominated by the existing administrative board/Pastor. In short, the administrative board makes sure we do ministry in a financially responsible way, and they make the fiscal world at TLC go ’round.

    On the spiritual side:
    Pastor is in charge – he’s the only one who would be elected in the case of a vacancy, in the manner that I mentioned above.
    He appoints Elders, who each govern one of the 5 facets of our ministry (worship, fellowship, evangelism, and stewardship). We elders handle the traditional pastoring duties. We have absolute authority and permission in our areas as long as they fit into the vision/policies set in place. All elders also are preachers who fill the pulpit in the absence of the pastor. A Biblical interpretation and guideline of the elders in our church is that of a bishop.

    The directors/deacons are covered by the elders.
    Our deacons are exactly that: deacons – servant leaders in the church, such as the youth director, childrens director, worship director, etc. They are appointed by the Pastor and Elders and adhere to the Biblical guidelines of a deacon.

    Another level of spiritual leadership in our church, even though we are in the Assemblies of God (which to many would be enough covering) is the relationship of the Apostle. We believe that an apostollic covering is necessary in every pastor’s life. This is someone who can give the pastor spiritual rebuke or blessing as well as be someone who speaks into his life regarding a missional mindset. In our case, this is a man who has known our pastor virtually all his life. He has travelled the world, seen thousands saved, pastored and started great churches, and has seen many miracles. If the pastoral appointment of elders and deacons, and the pastoral/board nomination of board members isn’t enough to make this discussion part ways with democratic church folks, the office of the apostle is. See, most democratic churches members control the pastor’s spiritual direction regarding the ministry. Here, a man who is the pastor’s covering keeps him in check doctrinally and ensures the sheep aren’t leading the shepherds.

  3. dean says:

    so what you’re saying is that you as an elder are your wife’s boss? well, since youth ministry is probably not in your purview as worship elder, that’s probably not the case, but would make for fun dinner conversation if you were 🙂

    in all seriousness though, i appreciate you going into all that detail for me. it clears most of my questions up.

    i’m fascinated by the whole apostolic covering thing. i’m assuming this person is probably of an advanced age considering his life’s experiences as you’ve described them above. my question is this… what happens when this saint passes away? how many people of this caliber would one pastor have in his life? what if there isn’t another person who could fit the bill for this particular pastor if the apostle-figure in his life and ministry were to pass away? just curious on that one. but i do agree with you in that it’s dangerous and downright un-scriptural for the congregation to hold sway over the pastor. i’m no agriculture expert, but i believe it would be a pretty safe bet that there weren’t any flocks of sheep that pushed the shepherd around. and yet i see it far too often (my current church just recently pulled such a stunt just prior to our arrival here).

    thanks for expanding on this for me!

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