I am a firm believer that if you have nothing to hide, you will have no problem bringing things before your church. Openness and transparency are the hallmarks of someone who is perfectly comfortable with the decisions they are taking. If there are shady dealings and an unwillingness to speak openly about matters, it suggests someone is trying to hide something.
It is for this reason that I think members’ meetings are a vital part of church life. Knowing that certain issues have to be brought before the membership means that decisions cannot easily be taken in the dark. Half-baked ideas must become more rounded and fleshed out – or, at least, admitted to being half-baked – when they are put to the church. We have to own the decisions that we take when we have to bring them before the church.
Of course, not every decision must be passed by a vote. The proverbial colour of the carpet is not a matter that the church membership need to vote on. The biblical model for the church membership is to principally exercise the keys to the kingdom – that is, appoint and remove people from membership – as well as agreeing upon those who will hold office in the church. Once leaders are appointed, they are then given the license by the church to lead and will be held to account by the church for their leadership.
Where the church believe their leaders to be in sin, or to have disqualified themselves from office, it is their duty to remove them. But the church will only know what their leaders are doing if those leaders actually tell them what is going on. The church can only hold its leaders to account when they know what their leaders are doing. When leaders continually keep the church in the dark, it isn’t unreasonable for the church to conclude that its leaders are not leading well. The leaders are putting their decisions beyond the view of the church so that the church cannot hold them to account for their decisions. It smacks of a leadership that is either not convinced it is taking decisions of which the church will approve or that it doesn’t believe are right and godly.
The church members’ meeting provides an opportunity for the leaders to own their decisions. The church are brought into the picture and rationales must be clearly explained. The members’ meeting helps to keep church leaders honest and allows the church members to exercise their God-given role. It keeps the church safe and it protects the leaders.
The ultimate point here: don’t forsake your members’ meetings.