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Is there any consensus or agreement among the readers/church leaders concerning the casting of lots in the election of church officers. Scripture certainly notes the casting of lots many times in the life of Christ and in the early church. Some commenters to a post in the "Church Administration" network describe the use of it in there church in a very edifying manner but are we "OK" as far as church order goes?

I am not a student of the Church Order and sometimes while reading it reads like a legal document subject to much interpretation. Any thoughts or comments out there?



Synod 1989 discouraged the use of the lot. The reason for that is the precious good given to the early church and re-gained at the time of the Reformation: meaningful participation in the selection of officebearers by the congregation as opposed to a top-down imposition of leadership upon the people in the hierarchical forms of church government.

Synod 2004 lightened up on that just a little and said that the lot might be included in the process of selecting officebearers as long as it is used in addition to an election. So, for example, one could conceive of four nominees for one elder position, have the congregation vote after the morning service, narrowing it down to two, then using the lot prior to the evening service (or the following Sunday or weekday congregational meeting) to determine which of the two is selected. Synod 2004 also maintained the principle that there must be meaningful input on the part of the congregation which is a bit more than just suggesting some names to the council. This is all rooted in a theology that says that the Holy Spirit is as much present in such congregational participation and the fruit of their informed decision-making as He is in the casting of lots.

When my commentary on the Church Order is published this fall, be sure to look for the commentary on Article 4 of the Church Order. There I have listed many different models for choosing officebearers, some of which are acceptable and some not. I suspect that a majority of folk in our denomination still hold to what these synods have said.

Eager to hear from others...............

"Church order" is one thing; common sense is sometimes another;

The idea of having an approved slate and then having the retiring officer 'pick' from the lot would be
[and is in many CRCs] preferable;...this avoids most of the politics that usually accompanies the most 'liked' candidate; I prefer letting the Lord pick the winner.

 I found a reference in the Acts of Synod 2003 (pp. 607-609), but came up empty for 2004... I'm really looking forward to your commentary, Henry! My church is contemplating the use of lots (again), so your article will be timely. The first time lots were considered a few years back, we decided against them.

Yes, I apologize.  I meant 2003 when I wrote my comment back in March.  I'd be very interested in hearing from all of you exactly what is being cited as the reason(s) for making use of the lot (again).  I have summarized some in my commentary that will appear before the end of the year, but it's always good to hear from each other what motivates our interest in it.

I'm truly sorry about the mistake in my referring to 2004 instead of 2003.  I promise to mend my ways.



 No problem for the year! I just wondered if I was missing something... What is prompting us to look at casting lots is the disappointment/rejection felt by individuals who have agreed to let their names stand for election. Even if it's not a popularity contest, it remains that one is more likely to vote for someone they know than for someone they don't. Newer faces, therefore, although qualified, don't receive enough votes to become officebearers. It then become difficult in subsequent years to ask those same people to let their names stand one more time. You see?

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