If your church is operating biblically, it will never be exactly as you would have it

It is often interesting to me that people frequently assume, because I am the pastor of the church, everything in the church must be exactly as I would have it. I suspect, in part, because of the kind of character I have and the way I communicate, some people assume the church is as it is because I have determined it would be so. Neither is the case.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have any particular issues with my church or the things that happen in it. But not everything is the way I would have it. But that is partly because some things are the way they are because they are how others would have it. There are the things I would do differently, but they are evidently not things I have decided to make an issue of. There are then a whole bunch of things that are not how I would have them, but even if I were inclined, I cannot really do anything about because we just aren’t in any position to do so. Then there are the things that all of us would like to be different, but we are unable to do anything about. These things are just the things of any church.

Aside from all that, there are some higher principles at stake anyway. Something may not be the way I would have it, but because I came committed to elder-led, independent congregationalism, sometimes I am overruled by my elders or by the wider church on a matter. Because those things are the way I would have them, I give way on things sometimes. Which necessarily means I give way on things sometimes, not because it’s what I would like to happen, but because I am committed to higher principles of plural, co-equal eldership and member rule. Those very commitments necessarily mean there will be times I want something to be a particular way that isn’t a particular way because others determine it to be so. And I am perfectly comfortable with things not being the way I would have them because the ultimate decision – regardless of my particular feelings on the matters – is rightly theirs.

What this means in practice is that no church functioning in line with principles I consider to be biblical will ever be as pure and perfect as I might like it. Naturally, there are degrees of these things. There is a level of imperfection that is so far removed from what scripture states that I might no longer be able to stay (but that is a very different sort of blog post). But on the whole, there will necessarily be imperfections and matters that are not how I would have them specifically because those determining them are rightly taking that responsibility seriously. If every decision in the church, every matter of how things are down to the finest detail is exactly how I would set it up, it suggests that I am making every decision and insisting on the minutiae of how everything will be and, therefore, not relinquishing authority and decision-making capacity where it should be relinquished. If I am doing that as I ought, there will necessarily be decisions I have to wear that are not the decisions I would take to which I submit because others have rightly decided.