Today we discussed how families make decisions – very different to how corporations do. And we looked at 6 or 7 decisions made in the book of Acts as the church grew and developed.
Some were made by the apostles, some the aspostles asked the church to make, some were made collaboratively and in Acts 10 there is the case of Peter making an executive call that the Gentiles are now welcome in the kingdom.
We noticed there is no one size fits all approach to discerning what God has to say to us, but the principles we drew out included:
1. Trusting leaders to lead – in the early church the leaders either made decisions for the church or initiated the process of consultation. In our culture today there can be an anti-leadership mindset, but good leadership that is both empowered and accountable is vital to healthy church life. Take the apostles and elders out of Acts and it would be all sorts of chaos and madness.
2. Listening to the wise – recognising that some have a better grasp of God’s mind than others. While we are all equal in status before God, some have more to contribute to decision making than others and they should be who we look to. Barnabas is a good example of wisdom in the book of Acts, believing that Paul had genuinely come to faith and introducing him to the apostles and seeing the value in John Mark when Paul had written him off .
3. Do your bit – where a consultative process is in action it is only as valuable as the contributions people make and the time they take to engage. In Acts 6 the apostles leave it to the church to choose 7 seven men to wait on tables and they follow thru on what they are asked to do. It would have been a disaster if the church hadn’t done their bit.
4. Be careful with the words ‘God told me’ – All of our discerning is via the messy and fallible conduits of our hearts and minds. Best to tread carefully with what we believe God may be saying so we don’t use these words to manipulate or back ourselves into a corner. In Acts 15 we read the words ‘it seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit’ which is a healthier way to frame our convictions.
5. Remember who we are – the family of God – not the corporation. Jesus never uses business metaphors to describe the church. We will make decisions with the heart of a family rather than the bottom line mindset of a business.
Next week we will spend some time in Acts 15 looking at the process that took place there and also discussing amongst ourselves the realities of the situation we are looking to resolve.