I don’t know how long it has been going on; it started before my time. But it has become honed in the past fifty years. I’m referring to the passion for consensus in many of our churches today. So many are afraid to act without finding out where everyone in the church stands on the issue.
Not long ago a church contacted me about doing a consultation. They asked if I would do a survey of their church to find out where their members stood on some issues as well as what they thought the church needed to do. I told them, “I don’t do surveys of the congregation because they don’t help and they take lots of wasted time. If the members knew what to do to grow the church, they would have done so.” Most members are clueless as to why their church is declining, or if it is growing what will sustain that growth. It’s not that they are stupid. It’s just that they haven’t spent years learning what does and doesn’t grow a church.
Instead of surveying the congregation, it is essential to do an internal audit of things like ministries, systems, and staffing. A survey of the congregation won’t answer any of those issues. All it will do is help the staff reach a consensus of what the membership wants done, and that will never solve anything.
In a world of rapid, epic change, all consensus does is cause constipation because nothing radical or important gets done. The only consensus most churches can arrive at on any radical change results in a watered-down version of the original issue. No one is pleased with consensus.
Consensus is never the way to go if a church wants to grow. Instead, a church needs strong leaders who love their flock but love the Kingdom of God more and are willing to make the hard decisions on behalf of the Kingdom and the congregation that consensus never makes. And it is those hard decisions that either grow or kill a church. The next time you’re tempted to survey your congregation to get some consensus of their ideas, remember: “Those who live by consensus die from constipation.”