Church Government Essentially Democratic

Whenever people organize to achieve any aim, there is need for some form of government. Government may be authoritarian or democratic, or it may embody varying degrees of each. If it is authoritarian, it rules through a power structure stemming from the top and imposes its decisions on its members. Individuals under an authoritarian system are not permitted full freedom of expression and initiative because this would set up a power conflict which is centrifugal and would threaten the fragile group structure. The group is held together by external discipline and lacks dynamism because individuals feel inhibited.

A truly democratic government, on the other hand, permits full and free expression and enlists the willing cooperation and initiative of each individual in service to the whole. Members of the group feel a sense of belonging and of unity which is centripetal and cohesive. Every individual has freedom and opportunity to demonstrate his innate God-given ability; and this encourages self-reliance, responsibility, dignity, and individual growth.

Churches of Christ, Scientist, being essentially democratic institutions, are dynamic and progressive. Where there is stagnation, it may be that more democracy is needed, more freedom, and more love. Is the executive board perhaps running church affairs on authoritarian lines in a well-meaning effort to keep them going? Do members really feel their church government is their own responsibility? Do they fully realize that the institution's authority stems from the members, collectively and individually expressing their God-given wisdom and initiative?

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Right Church Activity
September 25, 1965

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