I’m growing more and more convinced that the worst thing a church team can do is try to reach a consensus about something. On the surface, reaching a consensus seems like a positive thing because it means everyone has agreed to move in the same direction. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?
Actually, I’m not convinced that’s the case.
Our team has noticed that for many church teams there is a lack of clarity around decision-making in general. You may have seen our article about the 7 levels of making decisions, one of which is consensus. Here are 5 reasons I don’t think this is the best way to make decisions:
1) It embraces the status quo.
Change, whether positive or not, is not easy. We would prefer for things to remain the way they are today. So, when people get together to discuss the possibility of doing something a little different in the future, it’s normal for the majority to avoid making changes.
2) It gives the malcontents an equal voice in your decision.
Reaching consensus gives everyone a voice at the table. When that happens, even the negative, bitter folks that don’t really embrace the vision have the opportunity to pull the rest of the group away from what could really be the most desirable outcome.
3) It short circuits the radical ideas that lead to the biggest breakthroughs.
The big, bold ideas won’t see the light of day. Yet those are the ideas that could potentially lead to the best innovations. Consensus brings people back to the middle where the majority approves but mediocrity reigns.
4) It leaves unresolved conflict on the table.
At each end of a decision are distinct opinions which, if left unresolved, could potentially lead to division. Consensus prevents tough conversations from happening. It gives people the freedom to jump to compromise without engaging a healthy debate.
5) It discourages people from dreaming big dreams.
Want to neuter the creative-thinkers, entrepreneurs and visionaries in your organization? Force them to reach consensus with the rest of the crowd. These are the people that make you uncomfortable. They can drive you crazy. That’s OK. They’ll just go work someplace else if you keep forcing them to compromise their dreams.