Service/Accountability Series: Part 3 – Give and Take Accountability
What is accountability in the church? Is it to a board of elders or deacons, or to a pastor the pastor-perish committee, or to an executive council, or district of denominational board. Most parishioners are accountable to their church’s leadership. Most pastors are accountable to some kind of board or council, often limiting their efforts or thwarting them. Most of these models bring conflict and division. Church politics can be as ferocious as secular politics. Many a believer is stung and hurt by the process and leave for another church body if they do not leave the church all together. It has been said that Christians are known to shoot their wounded!
The secular world has painted Christian leadership as the crying Jimmy Sweigarts wailing, “I have sinned”, or the fall of Jim Baker and the PTL Empire with its airconditioned doghouse, or the righteous evangelical spokesman Ted Haggard who fell to his own fleshly desires. To whom were these men accountable? Sweigart and Baker are both back on TV influencing tens of thousands who watch them. Haggard has made his way onto Oprah, Larry King, and other TV shows to tell his story. Lack of accountability helped to bring their fall, and now what “new” form of accountability has been put in place if any? How often has the downfall of a predominate pastor, teacher, or church leader brought the downfall to their empire or congregation? How is the church to prevent this? Can this be prevented? What changes toward accountability has there been in the last couple decades to address this problem?
I feel the best form of accountability between brethren is the giving and taking of one’s faith, gifting, passion, desire, and point of view to another brother and receiving the same from him. I asked a “giving” pastor of a substantially large church, “Other than your board or staff, who do you allow to give to you, who do you receive from?” And he stood silent. If you give to those in your congregation, and you allow them to give back to you, you will build relationships, the golden nugget of Christianity. The giving and taking is what produces “family”. We talk about being the “family of God”, yet we keep our distant from other believers prohibiting the process. Some seminaries even teach their future pastors not to get close to those in their congregations, as if that is not the function of a pastor.
Let’s just look at the evangelist and see how he can benefit by serving a pastor/shepherd, teacher, prophet, and apostle and receive back from them. This give and take produces relationship, bonding, and trust. Giving releases service; taking receives accountability from four different point of view and passions that want to serve you for your good and Christian growth.
What does an evangelist have to offer as service: 1) they are in the “birthing process” wanting to win all “the lost” to the Lord; 2) they are forerunners, for they are on the front line of birthing; 3) they also know of rebirth, for “you must be ‘born again’;” 4) They are always in the forefront of revival and restoration. A sign of revival is the lost coming to the Lord; 5) and they can “birth” new programs and new movements. This passion can strengthen and has a direct influence on the other four in the five fold.
What can an evangelist receive from the other four: 1) the encouragement of someone walking out their faith walk on a practical way from a shepherd; 2) the confidence that their theology that they are sharing in their evangelistic message is grounded in the Word of God, the Bible through a teacher; 3) the confidence of learning to hear from God in a very personal, intimate way from a prophet who can also use this gift through personal prophecy to win others to the Lord (Woman at the Well example); 4) and oversight and encouragement by an apostle who sees the big picture and encourages the evangelist to lead the “new” sheep, the “babes” to the pastor/shepherd, have them taught by the teacher, and developing an intimate spiritual growth in them through a prophet.
Although the other four may see from a different point of view, each part of view brings accountability to the evangelist that he never sees. He won’t get blind sided as many who have fallen. He also gets to serve them, and they get to serve him. Relationships are birthed, trust is built, and a paradigm of accountability is being formed through service from one to the other and receiving of that service. There is safety in trusting the other passions and points of view and giving to them.