What should we do when we disagree with church leadership?

By Tim White

Studies show the average church has between 70 and 200 members. That's a lot of different opinions. What should we do when the inevitable happens and some of these members disagree with decisions made by the pastor?

There are no instructions telling us to agree with church leadership. However there are Scriptures that explain how we are to interact with our leaders.

Hebrews 13:17 tells us to:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Notice it does not tell us we have to totally agree with everything, but that we do need to obey and submit. Romans 13:1-5 tells us why:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
Of course, God never expects us to follow a leader into immoral or illegal actions or positions. Neither does He expect us to follow in direct, intentional disobedience to God.

The book of Daniel has three great examples of this. First, when the Hebrew children were asked to eat meat sacrificed to idols, Daniel went to God in prayer for direction. He trusted God for an avenue to please the authorities without displeasing God. God granted him the wisdom to form an appeal that the authorities accepted. God directed the results, delivering Daniel and his friends from disobedience to God, but with the blessings of the authorities (Daniel, chapter 1).

A little later, the Hebrew children were asked to disobey God by bowing to the idol of King Nebuchadnezzar. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted God for deliverance from the king's command, but refused to dishonor God. Instead of disobeying God and escaping the fire, they chose to accept the consequences of disobedience to the king, and God delivered them through the fire (Daniel, chapter 3).

You can see also the same deliverance of God in chapter 6, when Daniel would not dishonor his God by ceasing to pray to him. God did not deliver him from the lion's den, but delivered him through the consequences of his faithfulness to God and disobedience to a morally/legally wrong direction from his authority.

In these instances, and many others in the Scriptures, God honored those who remained faithful to Him and trusted in His deliverance while maintaining respect to the unwise authorities God put in place.

There will be times when you disagree with the leaders of the Church, but you follow anyway. Joshua and Caleb voted to go into the promise land. The remainder of the people voted to return to the wilderness (Numbers 14). Even Moses was forced to go along with the majority vote. Moses, Joshua, and Caleb shared the repercussions — forty years in the wilderness when they could have been living a life of luxury. But they still trusted God, and He honored them for that trust.

Sometimes God calls us to follow His appointed leaders when they make decisions that are not the best. We need to recognize when unity of the body is more important than efficiency or immediate effectiveness. And that such circumstances create a unique opportunity to trust God.

Image credit: vmagney; Some rights reserved

TagsChristian-Life  |  Church-Issues  |  Ministry-Church  |  Personal-Relationships

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Published 2-7-14