The two communities I have visited so far use consensus as a way of making decisions. I have long been drawn to consensus. When I heard about this unity-building way of coming to agreement when I first started studying intentional communities in about 1976, I decided that any community I was part of would need to use the consensus model.
Now, almost 40 years later, I am happy to find that communities that have been around for decades still use this method. I liked what I read in the book, “Living Together in a World Falling Apart: A Handbook on Christian Community” written way back in 1974:
“Decision making in the church-community does not mean each person abdicates hi own responsibility, as sometimes happens in a hierarchical church structure of bishops, archbishops, and popes. Each person is fully responsible. On the other hand, the individual need not carry the awesome weight of discovering God’s will alone. He has the Body of Christ in which he can test what he thinks God is saying.”
In another paragraph:
” At first I thought this process of corporate decision-making had the obvious wisdom of a board of directors of a corporation. For a long time business has known the pooled advice of several was better than the judgment of one person. But the more I talked to people at Reba Place and other communities, the more I saw that something far more exalted was going on . They believed that when they gathered in Christ’s name, He was fleshed out in their midst, and that He would provide His specific direction or their group. These people went to decision – making meetings with a great sense of awe. it was one of their most sacred and important gathering. They were there to hear God speak and conduct His business.”
Some people don’t like consensus because they imagine that every little decision will need to be made by the group . But the beauty of consensus is that people can decide together what decisions can be delegated to leaders or managers or to family units. Having clarity about who needs to be involved in what decisions is an investment in time that is well worth making.