The Decision Making Process
The Full Covenant members of the Alleluia Covenant use the following method for making their in common agreements, defining issues, and deciding what and how issues are held commonly within the Alleluia Community. Alleluia does not hold all things as in-common agreements. It only holds commonly those issues that have been agreed upon. Prior to such agreement, everyone may act according to their individual conscience and discernment. When an issue surfaces that may need common resolution, unless it is resolved within an existing in common agreement, it is brought to the attention of the Elders. At this point, the Elders determine if it is an issue that requires a solution that will be binding on all of the members of Alleluia Community. If so, the Elders begin the resolution process. When this happens, the individual members of the Covenant cease attempting to resolve the issue themselves and agree to pray and wait for an in common agreement to be reached by the body of Elders. Each member understands that no one member has the right to demand that all the Covenant members must agree with them. For the good of the community, a specifically agreed upon method for reaching agreement is needed. The members of the community agree to pray for the Elders who are tasked by the community to handle the solving of issues in a specific way as follows:
- The Elders are to prayerfully approach this service as “unto the Lord,” and specifically for the common good of all the covenant members. Personal prerogatives are to be set aside.
- The Elders seek input from those directly effected, and from other community members. They may wish to require each member to assist them by asking for a formal consultation herein each member submits his or her views in writing to be read by each Elder. Major changes to established agreements and agreements on major or serious issues are put to Full Covenant members for a formal consultation. Input from individual members is considered very important, however no one member may demand that the body of Elders must accept their input. Once the Elders receive the input, each member agrees to let it go and to trust that the Lord will use it as He sees fit.
- The Elders are expected to research the issue and seek outside input as they see the need. The focus of each decision is to be seeking Jesus’ position on the issue.
Where each Elder stands on any specific element of an issue is to remain confidential. Each Elder will not discuss where they stand or stood on any issue handled by the Elders. Each will simply report that they agree with the mindset of the Elders as reported by the Overall Coordinator. (The purpose of this is to keep the covenant members from becoming divided over personal opinions regarding specific elements of an issue. The possibility of factions or party spirits developing within a covenant body is always a real threat.
- The Elders are co-equal and each Elder equally shares the responsibility for each decision. Each is expected to call himself to the highest standard of holiness and to be called to that standard by the other Elders. See the 1976 agreement made by the Elders (included) in reference to how they will conduct themselves in their role of service to Alleluia Community. They are to resolve all issues that come before them by consensus. (This means they must all be able to agree on the solution as being best for the community at this time.) If they cannot reach such a consensus, then the Body will not hold this as an in common agreement and everyone is free to act on the issue as their individual conscience and discernment dictates.
Our community agreements are not all seen as permanent but they are agreed to as the position best for us right now. By these agreements we can move forward together in an issue. When the body of Elders reaches agreement and reports it to the Full Covenant members, each member of Alleluia Community agrees to make that agreement his/her own. After a reasonable time, any member may ask the Elders to revisit an issue. If the Elders agree to review the issue, it will then be treated as a new item. If not, and the decision stands the individual member will be asked to defer whole-heartedly in preferential issues. In issues of conscience where the member is unable to embrace the decision of the Elders, he/she should ask for prayer and assistance in resolving his/her personal conflict. If an impasse is reached the member may choose to leave or be asked to leave the covenant. We agree to support the decisions made by the body of Elders for the covenant group. We look for unity of heart and mind as well as unity of action. No member should hold to his or her personal opinion in issues we hold in common. True deference is a matter of the heart, and we believe that to fail to choose to defer in areas where we have come to common agreement is a serious problem for the good of the whole. By choosing to be a member of a covenant community, each member has agreed to focus his/her free will toward having a common purpose and living a common life.
This requires a level of deference that witnesses to the unity spoken of in John 17:21.
Summary on Decision Making
Issues to be resolved are to be discussed by the Elders. When the Elders reach a consensus on major issues they will report this to the community. The community will then either affirm or not affirm the Elders’ decision. Note that this process is for major issues that will affect the community at large. This includes such things as:
- Significant changes to prior major agreements,
- Decisions that move the community in radically new directions,
- Changes to our understanding of the covenant,
- Significant changes involving our foundational documents,
- Significant changes in governmental structure,
- Affirmation of new Elders,
- Other significant areas.
Day-to-day decisions are made without such consultations but are known to fit into those major agreements that the community currently holds. (Note: It is not simply the consensus of the Elders on major issues that decides what are to be “in common” agreements; the Elders discuss the matter and bring a recommendation to the community as a result of their work and study of the issue; the community has a chance to affirm their recommendation after which it becomes an “in common” agreement.)
The goal of all decision making in community life is the pursuit of God’s will for Alleluia. Our community life is not to be thought of as a set of laws and regulations. Agreements, community feedback, and roles of governmental authority are all interlocking parts that help us live a common life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.