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Archive for May 31st, 2008

“When we speak of total agreement, we are speaking about the final conclusion of the
elders concerning a matter. Total agreement does not mean that every policy adopted or
decision made has a unanimous perspective during the processing and deliberation. Total
agreement means that every elder comes to a unified consensus about the decision or
policy; that every elder agrees with every policy or decision that is made.
The process of getting to total agreement is to be a forthright, no holds barred, honest,
and vulnerable exchange of perspectives. The board allows each elder to deliberate in
his own voice—each elder can argue, take exception, disagree, examine, evaluate,
scrutinize, investigate, explore, etc whatever is being proposed. However, when all the
discussion is done and the elders come to a consensus, all the elders speak with one
voice. When the elder board comes to a decision or sets a policy, everybody must unite
behind the decision or the policy. That policy or opinion then becomes the voice of the
elders.
Coming to total agreement will not always be easy. Any one elder, when standing on
unwavering conviction, can stop any decision. If in the process of evaluating a decision
or policy an elder comes to the conclusion that the issue at hand is not weighty enough
for him to stop the decision or policy (i.e. it is a matter of your personal opinion rather
than a matter of theological or philosophical conviction), then he should yield to the
group. If he believes that the decision or policy may be unwise, then he should request
that the elders table the decision. At that point, the Chairman will initiate the scheduling
of extended time for the elders to spend in prayerful reflection, fasting, and ongoing
conversation.
However, once an elder agrees with the team to set a policy or make a decision (either
through an affirmative vote or an abstention), even if he personally deliberated against it
at the beginning, he is now united with the whole team on that decision. At the point he
unites to speak as one voice, he gives up any personal rights to say to anyone that he
disagrees with the decision. If he does not believe that the decision or policy was worth
stopping because of conviction, then he has chosen to stand united behind that decision or
policy.
In addition, total agreement means that no elder may speak his personal opinion as if it
carried special weight. He may have moral suasion because of his spiritual maturity, but
his personal opinions do not have any more value just because he is an elder. The
authority of the elders belongs to those decisions and policies agreed upon by the whole
elder team.
A misuse of authority or the undermining of elder unity is considered an offense for
which an elder may be disciplined and/or removed from office”

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