My wife and I moved to this community several years ago. We’ve been attending the church and have grown increasingly active through the years. I now teach both on Sunday morning and Wednesday night and we help where we can. Our church has a normal weekly attendance under 100, but we do not have elders at our church.
When we began worshiping with the church in the community I noticed that three of our men were leaving worship service following communion and contribution to count the contribution and post it. While the three men left the worship service to count, we continued worshiping by singing a song and then our preacher would begin his lesson. So the men were, at most, missing one song and the introduction to the lesson. This action has bothered me from the beginning and I finally mentioned to our church treasurer, who is one of the men that count the contribution. I told him that I felt like it should be done after worship service is over and that we shouldn’t have men leaving the worship service, voluntarily, to go and count money. We pray that our worship service be glorifying to God and according to his will and I just don’t believe that it is his will for us to leave the worship service to count contribution. Although, I might be wrong, I worried that Jesus might have the same reaction with us counting money during worship service that he had in John 2:13-22. And my last point was that if there was a more appropriate time to count the money then that more appropriate time should be considered.
My conversation with the church treasurer was a calm one and he was very perceptive. He came back to me a couple of days later and asked if I thought it was a sin. I told him that I couldn’t answer that, but if there was a more appropriate time to do something then we should do it at that most appropriate time. After about a week of considering this, the church treasurer decided that he agreed with me and would begin to count the money after worship service.
So, he told the two other men that they would begin counting immediately following worship service. One of the men agreed to do this and the other got angry. He asked the treasurer who gave him the authority to make this decision and the treasurer said he made the decision himself based on trying to do the right thing. The angry man then proceeded to get the man, who considers himself the leader of the church, and told him what the church treasurer had done. That man, the one that considers himself the leader of the church, then agreed that we would discuss this in a men’s meeting and take the decision to a vote of the men. This bothers me because it was an opportunity for this man to support our church treasurer for trying to do the right thing. Instead of supporting our treasurer he agreed with the angry man to take the vote to the church in an action that I would call “riding the fence”.
Furthermore, the vote went before the men of the church and the men of the church voted to count outside of any worship service. The one that was angry, still got up and left following the men’s vote.
A couple of things here. First, part of me regrets bringing the issue up, but I did feel like counting during worship service was wrong and needed to be corrected. Have you had any dealings with counting contribution during worship service? The second thing that bothers me is that the man that considers himself the leader of the church should have stood up and supported our church treasurer for trying to do the right thing. Instead, he diverted the attention from himself to the men of the congregation and I feel like that is wrong. I had a conversation with this man that same day and he does consider himself qualified to be an elder, but this action that he took makes me believe that he is not qualified to be an elder because he failed to support a man attempting to do a right thing and he basically overrode the treasurer’s ability to make a decision. This may be too bold of a word, but I considered this man’s action as cowardly.
If my actions were useless, please tell me. The last thing that I want to do is cause strife in the church over items that might not matter. But, at the same time, I try to take our worship service as seriously as possible and give all of our unified attention to God throughout our service to him.
I want you to notice that you are questioning whether you did the right thing by bringing up an issue based on one man's negative response. It is clear to me that the men of the congregation, as a whole, thought about the issue you raised and agreed that there was a better way to handle this. Were they all wrong because one man got angry?
The very fact that the man got angry is a clue that he has a problem. There is no leader of a church beyond Christ. We have men who lead, but no one man is in charge. Even when a church has elders, there is a multiple of men in the position for just this very reason. This man is upset to learn that others make decisions without him and different from what he thinks. His reaction would have happened sooner or later. If it wasn't the issue you raised, it would have been some other issue later on and the result would be the same.
You don't know the reason the other man agreed to having the men consider the issue. For all I know, he was trying to keep peace by having the decision be a group decision and not an individual decision. Perhaps he felt it was not his place to tell someone what they ought to do when two people disagree and he wasn't in a position of leadership. Or, he felt that this affected the whole church, so the whole church should be involved -- after all the angry man would gather followers if the problem was left to fester, so it is better to have the issue out in the open. To condemn this man because of what you assume are his motives is wrong. "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God" (I Corinthians 4:5).
The only man who demonstrated he is not qualified to be an elder is the angry man ("not quarrelsome" in I Timothy 3:3).