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The Lie of Consensus

Consensus is defined as “general agreement among a group.”  You know where consensus comes into play in your life, right?  You want to start moving ahead with your ideas, but you feel you need some consensus from your leaders to do it.  You know what needs to be done, but you want consensus from others before moving forward.  You are burdened with a need that needs met quickly, but you want to build consensus so you won’t feel all alone meeting the need.

The danger with consensus is that oftentimes it stagnates our progress and delays our successes.  In and of itself, consensus is a great thing to have.  There are times when it is absolutely necessary to get others on your side before moving forward on something.  But there are those other times that we use the lack of consensus as an excuse to not obey what we know God has told us to do.

So how do you know when to gain consensus, and when to act quickly without it?  How should I know.  You’re the one working in your church, leading your family, and daily seeking God’s Will for your life and situation, right?  You’re already the expert.

Just refuse to buy into the lie that you NEED consensus to do anything.  Pray and act, pray and act, pray and act, and I believe you will go in the direction that you and your group need to go.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Benjer McVeigh · October 4, 2011

    Not only does waiting for a consensus make it difficult to do anything, but sometimes we make a wrong decision because we put consensus over what God was calling us to do.

    Great post!

  2. Fred · October 6, 2011

    You are absolutely right! I’ve been reading my Bible and the Holy Spirit has led me to come to understand the Jesus was an alien from Planet 9 and God sent Him to Earth on a small rocket ship that looked like a dove. Since I don’t need consensus, I’m going to lead my Bible study group in this new direction. Thank you for your affirmation that I should ignore consensus, especially consensus related to Church history and forge a new path!

    • Jonathan Cliff · October 6, 2011

      Thanks for the comment Fred.  

      I would have hoped that anyone reading would have known that I’m a smart enough guy to know that some things absolutely need consensus.  In fact, that’s why I wrote that exact thing in the post above.

      • Fred · October 6, 2011


        I don’t doubt that you are smart enough to understand the need for consensus on a great many matters. In fact I pray that you continue to be. The sad truth is most American Christians don’t understand the need for consensus. The reality of the Evangelical church in America is a  disappointing  and heartbreaking sight.  As Hatch wrote and rightly pointed out, Democratization has become the reality for American Christianity where we can do what we want and ignore consensus.

        Currently one doesn’t even have to be a Christian to be part of the fold, and we celebrate it.  We now have a real life contemporary heretic, a man who rejects Trinity, a modalist invited to sit down to the table of brothers to discuss ways to build up the church. T.D. Jakes discussing ways to honor God by building up the Church at the Elephant Room round 2 is indicative of the state of affairs for  independent  American churches, where consensus is looked down upon and one can move away from the most basic and fundamental Christian thought and still be called a brother. Thankfully, he would not be allowed membership at Trinity, but instead be called upon to become a Christian and know the only God who exists.

        Yes consensus is messy and annoying and gets in the way with delays sometimes. But for Christians we must adhere to it on matters of faith. Sadly, for the most part, that isn’t understood and instead we lean too far towards individualism. Yes you are right consensus is not  necessarily  needed for everything, but to say it isn’t needed for anything would be too much. T.D. Jakes didn’t need consensus to call himself a bishop and start a non Christian church. Had he desired to be a preacher of the God who is and not the false God he teaches he would have needed consensus.  

  3. Josh Kellar · October 10, 2011

    It seems that what we are talking about here is “annointing.” Something I do not yet fully understand yet but am learning to rely on.   I have been in several ministry contexts where the idea of consensus was very different.   In one, even if I sought feedback from my leadership council, they would reply “whatever you want is fine.” In the other opinions were offered whether I wanted them or not and the people I was to rely on were often polarized.   I believe that even with an annointing, we are accountable for the decisions we make.   A consensus may not be possible but relying on wise council is always a good idea. “Let the wise listen and add to their learning,  and let the discerning get guidance.” (Proverbs 1:5 TNIV)