A Different Look At Accountability
In my May 13th blog I wrote, “After writing almost 300 blogs over the last few years about the Church from the perspective of the five fold not being “offices” by “church officials” but “passions” and “points of view” that drive believers in Jesus Christ, why wouldn’t the Church want to examine the relevancy of …… bringing “accountability” to those in the Church through “service” by “laying down your life for your brethren” (I John 3:16)?” Let’s look at that question.
In my private life I feel accountable to the leadership of my local church, but I do not feel them necessarily accountable to me. I can call for an “appointment” if I need to communicate with them during business hours or if I have a need, or I will email, tweet, or Facebook them, but I never expect them to personally do that to me. Why? Often leadership in most churches is by position rather than relationship. (Ratio between professional staff and laity can become ineffective for personal ministry when it grows in size.) I must admit, my current pastor and I get to sit down and square off about once every three months. I don’t know if that is enough to build a strong relationship of service and receiving. Those with whom I am in daily relationship I learn to respect because of their life style, their commitment to Jesus, their faith journey they display each day and how they portray Jesus to me in their daily life. Often laity feel “out of the loop” with their professionals. Personally, over the last 20 years, I have developed a mindset where I didn’t feel I had a personal relationship with our pastor that would warrant an invitation over for supper with his family, nor would I ever expect an invitation from him to dine with his family. I would feel calling him in the evening would fringe on his badly needed family time, but because of my work schedule I could not call him during business hours at the church office. That relationship has changed with our current pastor, but the breaking of an old mindset is in order!
Accountability for leadership in most churches comes from with in their own structure. Church Boards, Ministerial Advisory Committees, etc. are created as well as oversight by bishops, district supervisors, etc. for clergy. But I have discovered that being a pastor, a clergy, is a very lonely position. What has caused that dilemma?
Some denominations teach their clergy not to get close to their people because they move so often in their career. I know of laity who have been hurt, learning to mistrust their clergy, because every time they get close to one as a person, build a relationship of faith and trust, the clergy has been assigned to another location, another parish, creating a void that had previously been fulfilled.
Why couldn’t accountability in leadership be built on “service”, “sacrifice”, and “laying down one’s life” for each other through relationships? I know of church boards and leadership that will host “Pastor Appreciation Sundays”, take special offerings to “bless” their pastors, even sending them on a “Cruise” to bless them for a badly needed vacation, but will not yield or lay down their lives for that pastor when diversity and differences arise during leadership meetings and church politics become the “norm” rather than “service”, “sacrifice”, or “laying down one’s life.” That superficial cruise often becomes the Titanic of their relationship. What would leadership meetings be like if everyone was “free” to minister from their strengths to each other, and receive the strengths of others to bolster their weaknesses? The power to “release” everyone to be who they are in Jesus and the giftings He has given them as well as “receive” openly and willingly from others their strengths would change how leadership is done in the church. “Accountability” would occur with the “giving” to others while “receiving” openly from them. That builds relationships; that builds trust; that builds strong bonds of “service” as featured in Ephesians 4.
There need not be a great divide between those in leadership and those not in leadership in the body of Christ. We need each other, to serve each other, and to receive from each other. Part of leadership is allowing a relationship to develop where one will receive as well as give. This has to be practiced in our daily lives, our daily walks of faith! How can a believer learn to “serve”, to nurture, care, and give hospitality than to those they are following as well as receive from them? The church should be a “safe” place of us to practice on one another, so we can be effective when we reach out to others outside our little “safe” church world and be challenged.
Relationship among believes, the giving and taking of our different giftings and strengths is the key to the Church’s effectiveness and affluence in the 21st Century, and to bringing accountability to the church.
(This is the 3rd part of a 7 part series. I invite you to look back at the previous blogs, particularly on accountability, and join me in future blogs about the relevancy of the five fold to the 21st Century Church.)