Since the death of Herbert W. Armstrong, the Church of God has been scattered and split into many fellowships. The largest of these is United Church of God, but though they are the largest, they are not the most effective in preaching the gospel to the public, and they suffer from internal strife and divisions.
One pastor of that Church asked a friend, "What are we doing wrong? What can we do to revitalize the Work?" That is a good question. But I think the right answer is hard to take.
UCG kept most of the doctrines taught by HWA, but changed the doctrine of hierarchical government and built a system of balloting by the ministry to elect a board to govern the Church. They may have done this because they saw no alternative. But there was an alternative, and there still is, even for UCG pastors today.
Some in UCG may think that the Bible does not teach government from the top down, but it does. Some may have observed the fruits of one-man rule from Mr. Tkach and concluded that a lesson to be learned is the dangers of top-down government, but there is an explanation for that too. But in any case, the fruits of what is happening in UCG show the disadvantages of democracy, and it shows that UCG governance is a democracy, not a "spirit-led consensus." If it were really a spirit-led consensus, it would be hard to explain why God's Spirit would lead most of the voting ministry to approve a move to Texas, then after money was spent for such a move, disapprove it. It should be apparent that the same kinds of divisiveness, factionalism, and politicking that exists in American politics and government exist in UCG governance. You cannot revitalize the work in that kind of environment.
The Bible teaches us not to weaken the office of those in authority over us by openly criticizing them among ourselves, thus tending to show that an alternative elders' forum should not be used to harshly criticize those in power. On the other hand, the Bible teaches us to seek counsel before making a decision, and this means that those who vote must engage in discussions about those in authority to know whether to vote for or against them, and if those discussions are honest there will sometimes be harsh criticism. You cannot follow both of these principles if you have governance by ballot.
Democracy cannot work if criticism is stiffled. Having a system where those under authority select who will be over them in authority virtually guarantees negative criticism of the type that some say exists in the alternative elders' forum.
The contradiction is not between the two biblical principles of respecting authority and seeking counsel before making a decision. The contradiction is between the principles of the Bible and government by voting in the Church.
By placing themselves under the authority of a body of 500 voting ministers, the leadership and ministry have rejected the authority of Christ over the adminstrative work of the Church. That is one of the real sources of the trouble in United Church of God.
What is the solution for UCG ministers today?
When Herbert Armstrong faced disagreement with the ruling powers in Church of God Seventh Day, he has the courage to refuse further salary and trust God for his livelihood, according to his autobiography. Few ministers have that kind of courage or faith today, it seems.
Some pastors in UCG may be afraid to be independent, that is, to pastor their congregations independent of an elected body and trust God to provide them with sufficient member tithes from their congregation, and to report hierarchically to Christ until Christ can make it known by the fruits who He has selected to lead the Church. But if the UCG pastors had done that from the beginning, from the time they left Worldwide, by now it would probably be known who has shown the fruits of wisdom, faith, love, and courage required to lead the Church, and who God has blessed with success in doing His work, and the different pastors could have gathered to that man.
The passage of time is showing, and I think will continue to show, that democracy in the Church of God does not work.
Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:
Should Each Member Promote His Own Opinion?, Chapter 6
When and How to Judge, Chapter 5
A Brief History of the Scattering of the Church, Chapter 5
Government in the Church, Chapter 5
Following the Bible -- Pattern of Government, Chapter 6
Church Government, Chapter 7