I am enjoying this discussion - thanks to everyone's who's commented; plenty of room for more. I think the passion and intelligence of the comments suggests that this is a key issue facing our Baptist churches.
I agree with Stuart that we want to promote participation, that meeting is about more than just consultation. We need to unpack what the word 'congregation' means, I guess, so that we can put flesh of the bones of belonging and discerning the mind of Christ together.
I get nervous when I hear talk of leaders leading and churches being envisioned by them. I've met too many walking wounded from such situations to think that the model's basically ok providing it's properly managed. I think it's flawed. I just can't quite put my finger on why!
At the same time, I'm beginning to think that our decision making is a but thin when a two thirds majority of members present and voting actually represents only 10% of the church membership. Of course, I have reservations about 'voting' as such but rules and charity law mean that certain things have to be decided by a recordable consensus (a vote by any other word!)
We're planning to try the idea of meeting over lunch on a Sunday to see if we get more participation.
But my key concern is not so much about how we do 'business' (though that's important), it's about how we get participation so that our church becomes a place that makes disciples who in turn are disciple-makers. It seems to me that that is what church is for at a fundamental level and that membership and meetings of members are a way of organising things to make that central purpose happen.
So I agree with Wulf that we need to get back to talking about this so that we are able to reflect Jesus to our neighbours in a meaningful way. Everything we do as a church should aim for that - including how we organise belonging and how we make decisions as churches.