As you all know from some of the discussions in the past regarding polity in non-institutional congregations, I’m not a big fan of the “men’s business meeting.” I’ve known of churches that have existed for decades without elders, living under the business meeting arrangement for decades.
All that to say that I ran across this passage from James W. Adams’ Words Fitly Spoken (Bowling Green, KY: Truth Foundation, 1988), pages 20-21, and thought it worth sharing:
At various times through the years, a considerable number of brethren have sought to circumvent the oversight of New Testament elders, bishops, or pastors of local congregations of the Lord’s disciples. Inasmuch as there must be a directing element in all group activity, such brethren have been forced to conceive and set up some form of government for the discharge of “local church” business. Due to the onus that is associated with congregational rule by a majority vote of the total membership, they ordinarily seek to avoid that arrangement. In most cases, they have instituted instead the rule of the congregation by a majority vote of a “business meeting” composed of the adult, male members of the congregation. In so doing, they have literally “met themselves coming back.” Instead of getting rid of their problems, they have increased and compounded them.
When authority over congregational affairs is vested in the voice of the majority of a “business meeting,” an opportunity is created for any capable, personable, designing individual with a Diotrephes complex (3 John 9) to dominate a congregation. Through psychological influence and pressure (and sometimes not so psychological), he can exercise political control by bloc-voting his satellites in the business meeting while maintaining a public image of self-effacing humility.
The whole article, titled “Hung on His Own Gallows,” goes into somewhat more detail.
What are your thoughts? Why do we allow the patently extra-scriptural business meeting arrangement to stand?