In ministry, I have distinguished between Congregationalism and "the spirit of Congregationalism". Congregationalism is government by the congregation, under the Lordship of Christ. The Church Meeting has all authority over all things. No committee, no office-bearer, no individual enters there with any special powers. And then there is the spirit of Congregationalism. Every member, whether old or young in faith, rich or poor in worldly terms -- and so on -- must so be heard as if the Holy Spirit were speaking through them -- which the Holy Spirit often does. And this should be nurtured, because it may be fragile. OBSERVATION: This is in fact an offence to some, that "life's poor distinctions vanish here," as a Congregational hymn has it.