The following is a posting the Rev. Daniel Harper made to his blog, “Yet Another Unitarian Universalist,” recently, about how congregations make decisions.
We were in a meeting talking about how our congregation makes decisions. An engineer told us what happened after they made decisions in her for-profit workplace. She said, “We used to have a saying: Agree and commit; Disagree and commit; or, Get out of the way.”
In congregational life, as in the for-profit world, there’s usually a fourth option: Disagree and sabotage. A decision is made by a duly constituted authority, or through an established democratic process, and a small group of people who disagree with the decision start to sabotage it. And why wouldn’t we behave in this way? That’s the way democracy in America works: once a decision is made, many politicians (both Democrats and Republicans) go out of their way to sabotage the implementation of the decision. Ordinary citizens like us unconsciously follow their example.
But I think our congregations should be countercultural; we should not do democracy the way many U.S. politicians do democracy. We shouldn’t blindly adopt the standard from the engineering world, but it might be a good starting place:
Agree and commit; Disagree and commit; or Get out of the way.