One of the greatest things about people is they all have and opinion. One of the most challenging thing about people is they all have an opinion. Over the past few months I have listened to the talk show people complain about our President, it seems like only a year ago they were complaining about the President, only it is a different President. The realization I have come to is the President of the United States needs to make the decisions they think best for the country. Obviously not everyone is going to like the decisions. There are polls which measure the response to decisions, but the president does not ask public opinion before making the decision.
In the world of the church decisions need to be made all the time. The frequency might be on par with the frequency of decisions the President makes. Whereas the weight of the decisions is very different. Still there are decisions to be made. Some people will like the course of action and others will not. Most of the time we do not need to take a poll of church people to find the people who do not like the decisions. Since conflict makes most in the church uneasy at best, many have endeavored to short circuit the process by doing an opinion poll ahead of time.
I took some time over the past few days to look at the models used in scripture when making decisions among the followers. Only once does Jesus take a public opinion poll, even then he asks the 12, "Who do the people say I am?". The early church elders, Peter, James etc... when deciding the matter of circumcision did not ask the people what they thought would be best. Rather they went to prayer, discussion and debate among the elders. Once the course was decided it was handed down, enacted and people could choose how they felt about it. If fact I struggled to find any place in the New Testament church where followers of Christ used the court of public opinion to determine what happens next. Now the religious leaders used public opinion often, including when they crucified Jesus.
So what are we to do in the church. People matter, not from the standpoint of being consumers in our religious goods and services business. They matter because of being a creation of God. Yet we as humanity do not always know what is in our own best interest. This is where church leadership comes in. Not through a single autocrat, but through a team of people, the vision and direction of the church forms. Decisions are made through prayer, conversation and debate among the leadership, and then enacted with the congregation. The court of public opinion will more often than not result in a stuck church, which does not follow the spirit of God, rather follows the desires of humanity.