As I have traveled among all kinds of fellowships since 1977, the number one concern that has come from the saints’ hearts has been expressed in statements like — “a few voices have the clout, the rest don’t matter,” “no one has ever asked for my thoughts,” “I felt ignored or put down when I questioned things,” “sometimes the body would move so fast that I felt left in the dust,” “I was told to go with the flow and not differ,” and “when I asked myself, ‘How could my concerns be processed in this body?’ my mind was blank.” Such sentiments indicate that things are going on that are diametrically opposed to Christ’s heart.
The way of Jesus is radically “other” than what most of us have experienced. To Christ, every person and their voice is precious and significant. In His body, no one should fall through the cracks or feel like they are worthless. The easy way is to let one or a few give direction. The way of the Cross is for the body to hear Him by caring about what every person has to bring of Christ. “A caring community is a listening community” (Thomas Dubay).
As body-life is incarnated, one of the most important matters a group must process is how to work things out together. In 1 Cor 1 Paul confronts the assembly about their divisions and tells them to be “joined together” in the same mind concerning this problem. The verb “joined together” means to repair something that is torn, like mending a fishing net.
We don’t know the details, but in order for this to happen, the Corinthians would have to all come together (after already dividing by clustering around various personalities) and hear the voice of Christ as it came through Paul. Given what we know about humans, coming to “one mind” would not occur by the wave of a wand, but by honest mutual discussion with a view toward following Jesus and forsaking divisions.
In dealing with the Corinthian problems, Paul does not address “leaders,” but the whole body. The point being that in addressing any concern in the body, coming to peace in His will must involve listening to and processing what Christ expresses through every brother and sister.
Obviously, in traditional churches this is a monumental problem. Only certain voices are treated as important, and most voices are muted. The “will of God” is announced to a group by leaders. The great bulk of the members are not involved in the decision-making process. Their perspectives are never requested or taken seriously.
In Christ’s ekklesias this model must be rejected and avoided. To Jesus, each of His sheep is a conduit through which He speaks. They must all be heard. Thomas Dubay amplifies this truth:
“The person speaking is important, even precious. We pay attention to important people. To the proud person others are not important and so he is not inclined to take them that seriously. Even more, we value the opinions of those we love. If I do not really care what my brother/sister thinks, I had better doubt that I love them.”
Every voice must be prized and sought after because Christ’s mind will not reside in the same few, but among the many. As Dubay points out, “in community no one may assume that he/she alone can speak for God. No one can claim a wholeness of insight into the community’s problems. This is why all must contribute their gifts, their charisma, their experience in shared dialog.”
In light of these few pointed thoughts, would it not be wise for a group to candidly evaluate itself with such questions as these?
How to get the Mind of Christ
**Do we have an open, welcoming atmosphere in which all feel safe in sharing their portion of Christ?
**Have there been occasions when some contributions have been silenced by being put down or intimidated? As Frank Viola pointed out, when we gaze into the eyes of another believer, we are looking at Christ. Remember, then, if we demean or are rude to a brother or sister, we are speaking/acting directly to our Lord.
**Do all feel that their voices have been encouraged, solicited, listened to and processed in the decision-making process?
**Does the group feel like they are together not moving on anything until His peace descends on them with one-mindedness, or is there a sense that at times things are pressured and rushed through?
**Is care taken to make sure that communication of body issues has reached everyone, and that time has been given for questions, exploration and clarification to take place?
**Do the brothers and sisters feel that Christ’s leadership is being expressed freely through everyone, or is it defaulting over time to some in the body?
**Does each believer display through Christ in them that they are eager to hear and respond to the concerns, the perspectives, the voice and the heart of every brother and sister?
**How can we expect to discover the Lord’s mind in our midst if we do not honor, defer to, and submit to our Christ in each other?
**When the sun goes down, if all voices are not solicited, heard and processed the will of Christ will remain unknown to that group. Anything that hinders the free expression of all voices must be challenged.
[Thoughts from the “Consensus” Break-Out Session at Interconnect, 2013, Nashville]
By Jon Zens
Editors Note: After receiving this from Jon we spoke on the phone concerning a fallacy that is prevalent among House Church groups. It is said that we can’t get the Mind of Christ unless all speak equally. Openness to participate doesn’t mean everyone has to speak in every meeting. I have been in boring meetings that went in a hundred directions when all “HAD” to speak, and I have been in wonderful meetings where about half spoke, but all heartily agreed, and the Holy Spirit was strongly felt. So let’s be open, encouraging, and welcome, but let’s not swing the pendulum so far from the institutional one man-one voice that we ignore the purposeful thread of the Holy Spirit in each distinct gathering.
Jose Bosque GodsLeader1@aol.com
How to get the mind of Christ