In preparation for our church’s annual meeting tomorrow, I’m sharing another quote that has given me something to ponder. This was a comment I read on another blog in response to their church leadership:
“Why do so many of you feel a church leader is entitled to privacy in church dealings. This is not a secret society. It’s a group of people with a leader, teacher, instructor, not a dictator. Every single church matter should be an open, public event. If you are honest and sincere, that shouldn’t make you uncomfortable. And if it does, so what? Deal with it. The reverse consequences are too enormous. It is not isolated occurrences for pastors to embezzle, lie, cheat or molest. Everyone I know, myself included, who was molested as a child was forced to keep it a secret to “protect” the sacred image of a church. Don’t think it can happen to you or yours, you are very naive. One secret breeds another. It has made me angry my whole life that image to outsiders is more important than content. Do you know how many times I’ve seen pastors, leaders, elders, etc. suddenly relocate with no explanation given. This needs to stop. The only reputation that matters is God’s.
My own parents refused to take a stand against my childhood church. Example showed them that those who dissent are ostracized and shunned. It was better to be quiet than have all your peers abandon you. How sad. Betray a child rather than take on a grown man who is fully capable of defending himself.
Again, I ask, why do so many of you become alarmed, sad, shocked, outraged that the leaders are being questioned? As opposed to examining the content. What are you afraid of? That you might have been mistaken about your worship of a man over God.
And don’t think I’m in favor of gossip or innuendo. Or that I’m implying anyone is a molester. I’m describing what can and does occur when things are shrouded in secrecy and unquestioned trust…”
There’s a great deal of mistrust in churches, leaders, and pastors – both fair and unfair. But regardless, all leaders should be mindful about how they can build a culture of trust and transparency in their leadership.
The other elders, staff, and I are constantly mindful of these things particularly as we’ve grown in the past couple years. These are some of the things we do to build that culture:
- Send out a weekly e-newsletter.
- For those that don’t use email [some of our senior citizens], mail out weekly church programs and above documents when published.
- A members’ link on the church website [password encrypted] with all the documents listed above. [We’re hoping to resurrect this link after the annual meeting.]
- Bi-weekly Elder Board meetings where minutes are written, published, and made available to the church community.
- A promise to listen to all concerns of the church. [I’ve learned that while people do care about the content of their concerns, they’re more concerned that their voices are heard.]
- I send out a quarterly ‘Church Matters’ letter to all the members and regular partners of the church as I speak from my heart about some of the behind the scenes issues of the church.
- An attempt to have a quarterly financial report available to the church.
Any other ideas or suggestions? What are some things you do at your church or organization to build this culture of trust and transparency?
* Please note that not ALL minutes are published or made public in any manner. There are some conversations – particularly dealing with confidential matters of people that are not included in the minutes that are published and distributed. One of the responsibilities that all healthy church leadership ought to subscribe to is ‘confidentiality.’