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this is that in daily business life, we are accustomed to humanly founded and ruled institutions. These institutions exist by and for the people who form them. They receive their authority from, and are answerable to, the people. Therefore, they operate with a democratic/republic form of government. The people usually nominate and elect a board of directors which is answerable to them. At general business meetings, the members are the power base; the board is elected to carry out their will. All matters must be passed by democratic vote. Motions from the floor or previously submitted motions from members are permissible according to Robert's Rules of Order. This parliamentary procedure is appropriate because the will of the people (the majority) rules in man-made, democratic institutions. Robert's Rules is the most orderly and efficient means of arriving at large-group, democratic decisions.

In God's church, however, this is different. God's church is not a man-made institution. The church is a divinely-founded and -ruled institution. Christ is its Head and King. He appoints its officebearers and delegates authority (the keys of the kingdom) to them to rule. The church's ruling authority and power come from God. When one joins the church as a confessing member, he confesses his desire to place himself under God's church government. Church government is autocratic (power vested in one governor) and not democratic (power vested in the governed). The consistory is ultimately answerable to the King of, and not the people in, the church.

For these reasons, congregational meetings are structured and conducted in a manner different from business meetings. All matters brought forward for decisions, all "motions," must come from the consistory. The Matthew 18 Principle is the guideline. Matthew 18:15-18 states that whatever transgressions, problems, disturbances, disagreements, or concerns can be resolved individually, must be done so; whatever can be cared for with two or three, must be done in that manner; and whatever can be handled at the consistory level, must be done there. Only after these attempts have been exhausted should other church members become aware of a disagreement or difficulty. The principle taught is this: Involve only as few people as necessary to resolve a problem or concern. The reason for this principle is the need to treasure and promote the unity and peace of the church - the body of Christ.

Is the church a man-made institution? Why not? What difference does this make when discussing the format and procedure for congregational meetings?


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