You may have noticed that some decisions in church life are less popular than others. It’s easy for people who may not have all the facts to make unfair assumptions about the motivations, strategies and choices being handed down. At times, church leaders somewhere in the “chain of command” may be called upon to explain a difficult decision to the church as a whole or to one specific group within the Body. If a reasonable chance for misunderstanding exists, the best way to promote unity in the fellowship is to carefully explain the LOGIC of the decision rather than merely citing the AUTHORITY for the decision. Otherwise, those who make lots of decisions are hung out to dry. Consider a few examples.
Case Study One
Teenagers are skateboarding on the parking lot, which has cracks, metal rails, ramps and various other attractive hazards. This creates a safety issue for the teens and a liability issue for the church. The Insurance Committee informs the Pastor that this must be disallowed. The Pastor informs the Youth Minister. When the Youth Minister talks to the kids, he has two options:
(1) “For your safety and to protect the church from a lawsuit, there will no longer be skateboarding on the parking lot.”
(2) “The Pastor said you can’t skateboard anymore!”
Case Study Two
Moses comes down from the mountain with a list of rules from God that result in spiritual obedience and personal happiness. He finds people who have broken those rules and are worshiping a golden calf. Moses throws the tablets down, breaking all Ten Commandments at once. He invites Aaron into his office for a performance review. Aaron comes out and explains the situation to those under his authority:
(1) “Graven images tempt us to worship things rather than God, so we will no longer bow down to pretty gold statues.”
(2) “Moses chewed me out and started throwing things in a terrible hissy fit! No more golden calves because Moses doesn’t like them!”
Case Study Three
The ceremony of observing the Lord’s Supper is considered by our Deacon Body leadership to be one of the most sacred and spiritual observances that we ever participate in as a church family. Thus, the dignity of the occasion is easily on a par with that of a wedding or a funeral, ceremonies in which it is customary for those on the platform, ushering, singing and ministering to wear formal attire such as tuxedoes, suits and clergy robes. The Deacon Chairman reminds deacons that as we serve the Lord’s Supper next Sunday, we are to wear coats and ties. One deacon, absent from the meeting, asks another one about the policy. He is told:
(1) “Since the Lord’s Supper is as sacred to us as a Wedding or a Funeral, and since we are participating in the ceremony much like an usher, groomsman or pall bearer, we will all be wearing coats and ties to conform our dress with the dignity of the occasion.”
(2) “The Deacon Chairman said we have to dress up to take the Lord’s Supper–even though Jesus wore sandals and a tunic to the first one!”
I hope these examples clarify my point. While it is certainly appropriate at times to explain the realm of authority responsible for determining the logic of a tough call, we are less than fair to those decision makers when we only give people the WHO without giving them the WHY. It engenders distrust and may even breed rebellion. It takes a little bit more time to give a WHY than it does to cite a WHO, but it results in much greater harmony among the Body of Christ.