Ok, that most likely won't make sense to anyone who never worked at the New Riverside Cafe, a now-defunct, collectively run vegetarian cafe in Minneapolis (from about 1972 to 1997?) I was a member of the collective from 1991 to 1993. It was a rich and most often maddening experience.
When they asked in my interview if I had any experience with consensus decision making I said, "well, I went to quaker school, and they made us do it in fourth grade" apparently close enough.
What I remember most there was the constant struggle to get 25-30 people who had grown up in the "real world" to really live into a system where they were responsible for their own work.
Our slogan, at some points was, "No Meat, No Bosses!" - which I liked very well. But consistently, various people would embrace the attitude of "no boss! great!! I guess I can come in late and slack off and no one will pester me!"
So, we discussed in collective meetings that it needed to be more like "30 bosses" than "no bosses" - that we needed to hold each other accountable, and take our own responsibilities seriously. The idea worked on some of us, slowly, but many simply wanted to see how long they could collect a paycheck before even their easygoing hippie friends would can their a**es.
I hear quakers here and there yearning for "leadership" - more and more questioning of the idea of not having paid ministers (or designated ministers at all? which I think is a distinction that we lost somewhere along the way...) many of us are perhaps feeling a bit like we're wandering in the wilderness, and we're hoping someone else will show up with a compass.
I value greatly the immanency of quaker faith - that no one is closer to God than another (well, that's part of my interpretation anyway).
The equality of it all can feel like quite a mess. Someone on Quaker-L recently admonished listmembers for failing to call a fellow listmember on something that most of us would say was clearly a delusion (but how do you ever know? Maybe God doesn't work the way that it seemed to you God did?) It is hard to stand up to each other and say "you are wrong" - or to find a way to say "that does NOT speak to my condition" in a way that furthers and deepens connection, rather than cutting it off.
I do not want hireling priests. I do not want hierarchies of power or holiness. And yet some do seem to be more organized, or to have greater insight into the truth of the spirit. Living with no bosses, no priests, feels much less stable, much less safe (a bit like being an orphan?) and yet it is so much more true (as far as I know) - it is worth living into the flux and chaos, in which is maybe found perfection.