Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (2) : Spirit to Consensus
决定决定决定(2): 圣灵, 合一
(Grace Liu 翻译)

And so we continue, from “Decisions, decisions,” part 1…..

2. 圣灵

You have heard that when the first disciples got together “to form their church”, they started with prayer. The Holy Spirit descended on them, changed them, and made them a totally new energetic group, to begin the very first church in the world! Wouldn’t you like to form a church that way? Personally, I have had the privilege and opportunity to start many church -related efforts in my life, including being acting minister seven times! So I know well the deep meaning and joy of the first step in any venture. Imagine the first steps of building the original church. It was really special, setting the stage for 2,000 years of the life of the church. I don’t really understand why Christians don’t pay more attention to how it all actually began! Much more exciting than many other efforts in the church, I am sure!
你已经听说过当最早期的门徒聚集到一起“建立他们的教会”的时候,他们以祷告开始。 圣灵降到他们身上,改变他们,也让他们变成一个全新的充满力量的群体, 开始世界上第一个教会!你不想以这样的方式建立一个教会吗? 我个人有这样的福气和机会在建立教会方面付出一些努力, 包括7次成为代任牧师! 所以我很清楚在任何旅程中迈出第一步的深刻意义和喜乐。 想象一下建立最早教会的最初几步, 这真的很特别为两千多年的教会生活奠定了基础。 我真的不明白是为什么基督徒们不更多注意教会是如何真正开始的!我确信比教会其他的努力更让人兴奋!

And I really think the principles embodied in the first church are much better than any secular or even church management “strategy” workshops you might attend. Indeed, the popular good management guru books (which I have read quite extensively) often either overtly or covertly use biblical principles, so why not just start with the bible ourselves? Get it directly from the source, and save the money.

And, in the beginning of the historic church, who do you think was leading the church? Was it a management guru? Was it a seminary-trained pastor? Was it the president and CEO of a big organization? Was it a PhD? You know the answer. It was just a group of common people, and the leading light of the group was a fisherman who had never gone to college.

First church awaiting the Holy Spirit’s inflowing and touching. Google safe search, all uses

But he and his coworkers had all lived with and followed the greatest leader for three years, hearing what their great leader had taught, seeing Him in action, and praying with Him. Day in and day out, they had learned their lessons, and now in their time of need, in their time of prayer, He was no longer on earth, but the Holy Spirit descended upon them to give them a new mission in life. Isn’t this a beautiful picture of how a church should run, and especially how it should start?
但他和他的同工都和最伟大的领导者一起生活,并跟随衪三年,听衪所讲的,看衪所做的,并和衪一起祷告。 日复一日, 他们学到了他们的功课, 现在在他们需要的时候,在他们祷告的时候, 衪不再在地上,但圣灵降到他们身上并给他们的生活一个全新的使命。这不就是一个教会如何运转的美丽画面吗,尤其是它该如何开始?

Living our daily lives serving the Lord, and trying to follow Jesus’ teachings, rather than the world, is a great start. And letting the Holy Spirit guide, instead of just following our own dreams and plans, or somehow using our former church experience, traditions or denomination as the foundation would seem a lot more exciting, and consistently biblical to me. After all, the Holy Spirit is a real living God and moves in the lives of Christians of all generations, so why don’t we allow Him the freedom to act on our thoughts and lives, instead of simply copying some formula from sources other than the bible?
每一天事奉主,并试着跟从耶稣的教导,而不是跟从世界,就是一个很好的开始。不是仅仅跟从我们自己的梦想和计划, 又用我们以前某某教会的经验、传统或教派作为基础,而让圣灵带领,对我来说是更符合圣经的,也是更令人兴奋的。

I have a feeling that, just as in the “great diversity of gifts” chapter in the New Testament, not only is each believer the recipient of unique gifts, each individual church should have the joy of uniqueness also. It would seem reasonable that the Spirit moves and gives us all unique corporate church gifts, and each church can be so different from another one; we can truly celebrate that wonderful diversity among churches, as well as among individual believers! And that is possible only because we have a living Holy Spirit who animates us, both individually as well as corporately!
我有种感觉是就像新约圣经里的章节讲恩赐的多样性, 不仅每一个信徒是独特恩赐的接受者,每一个个体教会也有独特恩赐的喜乐。这看起来合情理就是圣灵运行并给我们各样教会即独特又合一的恩赐,每个教会都与另一个教会很不一样,所以我们真的要庆贺教会的多样性。只有我们有一个活的圣灵在激励着我们,在个人和集体层面,才让这成为可能!

3. 合一

And do you think that the early church made their decisions by 51% majority vote? 60%? 75%? What do you think? The scriptures show us they decided major decisions by consensus. Acts 15:22 – Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church…. (English Standard Version)
你认为早期教会以51%的多数投票做决定吗?还是60%?75%? 你怎么想呢? 经文向我们展示了他们通过合一做大的决定。 使徒行传15:22 那时,使徒、长老并全教会也都认为好(中文新译本)。使徒行传15:22 那时,使徒和长老并全教会定意(中文和合本)。

In the church we started, over the decades we have taken the concept of “seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church” as a consensus-seeking concept. Meaning that we tried to come to decisions that were “good to everyone”. At first blush, it sounds too idealistic, how could everyone agree! Yes, sort of!
在我们教会成立的几十年里,我们采取了这个概念即“ 使徒、长老并全教会也都认为好”(中文新译本)作为寻求合一的准则。 这意味着我们我们尽力做出“每一个人都认为好”的决定。乍一看,这听起来太理想化了,大家怎么会都同意!是的,有点!

Also, the emphasis in Acts does seem to be on the apostles and the elders, who have to take the initial responsibility to do the first part of “seems good”. Meaning that they had to work together. In the same way, today’s church needs to learn to pray together, to seek God’s will, just like in the early church. Afterwards, when the leaders have consensus, they then present it to the whole church, so that the decision is “with the whole church”. In the text, the affirmation of the decision by the people of the church must mean they were brought into the discussion, and must have had an opportunity to discuss and, finally, to concur with the decision.
此外,使徒行传强调的重点似乎是在使徒和长老, 他们要承担最初的责任去做“都认为好”的决定。 也就意味着他们要一起同心同工, 今天的教会需要学习一起祷告,寻求神的旨意,就像教会起初那样。 后来,当领导者达成共识,他们就需要把它呈现给整个教会, 所以决定是 “在全教会内的”。在文中,教会弟兄姐妹对决定的肯定,必须意味着他们参与了讨论,必须也有机会讨论,最后同意这个决定。

You might say that this is impossible! But we really serve a God of the impossible, and it does work, and will work. What it does make certain is that decisions are not “rammed through” by a majority of 51%, 60%, or 75%. You know that in US elections a majority decision definitely does not create a sense of unity. More likely, two different “opposing camps” will emerge, and the “losing camp”, surprise, is not happy! Or more likely is angry or bitter. Which will sow the seeds of discontent for the future.
你可能会说这是不可能的! 但我们就是服事不可能的上帝,在我们的经历中,这是有效的,并且会起作用。它确保的是决定不是通过多数投票如51%,60% 或75% 艰难的通过,失利方会觉得对方好像太强势。 你知道在美国选举中,多数人做的决定肯定不能有合一的感觉。 更可能的是,两个不同意见的阵营会出现,输掉的阵营毫无疑问会不高兴!甚至是生气或痛苦。 这将播下以后不满意的种子。

Whereas, when we are seeking together to find out what “seems good”, then surprisingly, we are more gentle with each other, and try not to “beat the other group into submission” … Truly, we become more sensible, and more sensitive! And we try to work together, to come to a common agreement. Please re-read the consensus verse above again, more carefully.
然而,当我们一起寻求找到“都认为好”的决定的时候,令人惊讶的是,我们对彼此都更加温柔, 并试图不要“胁迫其他人服从”……我们真的变得更加通情达理,更加体贴!我们试着一起同工,来达成共识。 请在仔细阅读上面合一的经文,再一遍,更加仔细。

In another verse, the same pattern appears. Acts 15:23-25 – 23and sent them with this letter: “The apostles and the elders, your brothers, To the brothers among the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 24It has come to our attention that some went out from us without our authorization and unsettled your minds by what they said. 25It seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul. (ESV)
在另一节经文中,同样的模式出现了。 23於是写信给他们带去,信上说:「使徒和作长老的弟兄们,向安提阿、叙利亚、基利家的外族众弟兄问安。使徒行传 15: 24我们听说有人从我们这里出去,说了一些话搅扰你们,使你们心里不安,其实我们并没有吩咐他们。 25因此,我们一致同意,选派一些人跟我们亲爱的巴拿巴和保罗去见你们(中文新译本)。

Deciding by consensus, which “seemed good to the leadership with the whole church, having one mind,” to send Judas and Silas, or Barnabas and Paul, on their respective missions. Google safe search, all uses
同心决定,即“对全教会的带领是有益的,同心合一”, 派遣犹大和西拉,或巴拿巴和保罗,到他们各自的宣教事工

In this verse, they decided by consensus to send Paul and Barnabas on a mission, to resolve an issue and misunderstanding. Note that “it seemed good” and “having become of one mind,” clearly speak of consensus. It is good that the apostles and elders were of “one mind”, something much more meaningful than, “we voted, the majority outvoted the minority, the minority lost, and the minority has to obey the majority.”

Thus, in our church, consensus among the spiritual leadership became our approach for decision making from the beginning. See URS “Ministers and Elders Getting Along.” In our tradition of consensus, we defined consensus in practical terms as decisions where there are “no objections”, meaning one person might have some reservation but if he/she feels he/she cannot affirm his/her reservation as a God-given one, then he/she “passes” or “abstains”. If, however, he/she has a “genuine objection” derived after prayers, it is respected; we have “no consensus”. In this case, we need to discuss the issue further, pray more, and delay any decision for another prayer time.
因此,在我们教会,属灵领袖的合一,从起初就成为我们做决定的方法。 看曾叔叔的故事 “传道人和长老喜乐相处”。在我们合一的传统中,我们从实际出发,即做“合一”的决定, 意思是当一个人可能有一些保留意见时,但如果他/她觉得不能确定他的保留意见是神给的意见,那么他弃权。但如果他/她祷告后“真的反对”,是受到尊重的,我们在这件事情“没有一致意见”,在这种情况下,我们需要继续讨论这件事,更多的祷告,延缓决定,更多的祷告。

In our history, we began this process when we were smaller in size, so as we grew, we generally decentralized decisions to smaller decision-making groups so that consensus was easier to achieve. Essentially, each smaller decision-making group had to at least have the main components of a church (a mini-church), in effect, an elder/minister, a deacon, (both representing larger church interests and broader wisdom), a key member of the specific interest group for the decision (representing specific expertise on the subject), and other representatives of those potentially impacted by the potential decision, for a total of something like seven people, in order to have reasonable representation and responsibility. Thus, the concept of consensus remains, but it is a delegated responsibility, for efficiency.
在我们的历史中,我们在规模很小时就开始了这个过程,所以当我们人数增长的时候,我们将决策分散到小组中,以便更容易达成共识。实际上, 每个决策小组必须要有教会的主要部分(像一个小教会),即一位长老,一位执事(都代表大教会的公心)和更多的智慧,特定需要的主要成员(代表该专业的特定专家),以及可能被决定影响的其他代表。总共有7人左右,以便有合理的代表和责任。因此,共识的概念仍然存在,但它是一项代表性的责任,以提高效率。

Big decisions (defined by financial cut-off point) still went from the small group, after the first -level decision, to the entire deacons group and/or the elder ministers group, for a further consensus and affirmation decision. The first small group basically worked out the major issues, and so the second group could build readily on that foundation, for an easier decision. Biggest issues (a higher financial cut-off point) had to go before final decision in the “all workers group”, officially representing the “entire church”. For issues that were not necessarily “biggest” in that the cost was not high, but which the entire church should know more about, we often used an “affirmation” option in the regular monthly combined prayer meeting for the church, more as a way of informing everyone for better communication.
在第一级决策小组之后,重大决策(由财务切入点定义)仍然从小组到整个执事组和长老传道人组,以达成进一步的共识和肯定决定。第一个小组基本上解决了主要问题,因此第二组可以在此基础上稳步构建,以便更容易做出决策。最大议题(另一个财政切入点)必须在“所有同工会”的最终决定之前进行,正式代表“整个教会”。对于不一定“最大”, 但整个教会应该了解更多的议题,在定期的月度联合祷告会上,我们有在教会确认的机会,更多地告知每个人以更好地沟通。

The definition of the “all workers group”, or essentially the “entire church group” was relatively unique. All members were welcome to come to this all workers group meeting for any final “biggest decision”. However, the requirement was that everyone who wished to attend the meeting needed to attend the combined all-church prayer meeting, held just prior to the actual “all workers” meeting, even though the “all workers” meeting therefore started quite late, about 8:30 at night, since the prayer meeting was held first. That way we insisted that there was no decision making without prayer, public and private.

Thus, in every decision, no matter small or big, we should seriously try to seek God’s direction and will, in humility and sincerity, trusting that God’s grace is sufficient for the day. God’s church should work better than the secular world, and we must try to make it so. Basically, we must especially be willing to lay aside our personal preferences, plans, and desires for our own comfort and convenience, to submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading us together in consensus as one church.
因此,在每个决定中,不管大小,我们很认真的寻求神的方向和意愿, 谦卑的真诚的, 并相信神的恩典对当下的我们是足够的。 神的教会应该比世俗社会做的更好, 我们也应努力做到。 基本上,我们尤其要愿意放弃我们个人的偏好,计划, 寻求我们自己舒适、方便的想法,交托给圣灵的带领, 成为合一的教会。

Hang in there — I broke the decision topic into three parts since it was so important, and hope you enjoy the final article 3 in this series…please see