Thursday, December 31, 2015

Don't give one person veto power in your church

Small churches are often referred to as family churches. They function more like a family than an organization especially in the way they make decisions and in how people relate to one another. This sense of family can be either a positive or negative for the church. It is a positive if it offers people a sense of community or a sense of feeling as if they are part of the family. However, it can also be a negative if outsiders find it difficult to become part of the family.

Being a family church can also have another negative aspect. Many families have at least one member who is always negative, cranky, stubborn, and determined to get his or her way in every situation. Family churches can also have such people, and, to make it worse, these churches allow these people to control what happens in the life of the church.

In my workshops I often talk about the tendency for smaller churches to give veto power to one person or family in the church. The majority of members may think something is a good idea, but they won't act on it because they know that "Joe" or "Josephine" won't like it. Or, if something is brought up for discussion and someone speaks strongly against it, the matter is dropped because no one wants to offend a family member.

Sometimes these naysayers are frightened and concerned that the church might attempt something and fail. If a small church has entered the survival phase in its life cycle such fears are understandable. My experience has been in such circumstances that being patient and taking time to explain the change being considered is sometimes enough to gain the support needed to move ahead.

In other circumstances, the people we give veto power to are controllers who are determined to run the church the way they see fit. I have discussed controllers in other posts such as here and here. We simply must not allow these people to continue to limit what God wants to do in and through our churches.

Healthy families do not want to intentionally hurt other family members, but healthy families also refuse to walk around on egg shells when they are with family members who are always negative or difficult to be with. Only unhealthy families allow selfish family members to always get their way. The same is true of churches.

I pray that your church shares a common vision for ministry in 2016, and that you will not allow one person, or even a handful, veto that vision.

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