Red Flags: Accountability in Ministry

Red Flags: Accountability in Ministry

Written on April 10th, 2014 in Stories by Carl Thomas


Anyone in the church or even outside the church is all too familiar with the long chain of stories concerning ministries and leaders who’ve been shipwrecked by scandal. It’s an unfortunate black eye that the bride of Christ has had to sport for far too long. However, it is also a reality of ministry because in the end churches are made up of imperfect people and imperfect people make mistakes, sometimes catastrophic ones.

By and large, most church scandals involve one of two things: money or sex, and sometimes both. Why? Two reasons: 1) nothing competes against God for your heart like the love of money, and 2) ministry leaders are mostly men and men battle with lust on a daily basis.

The question then becomes: what do we do? Can we afford to keep having these newsworthy failures on a semi-regular basis without losing all credibility? The world looks at the church and sees hypocrites because in their minds, we are just like them.

And they’re right! We are just like them. We’re all sinners, we all screw up, and we all need a Savior. Yet Jesus calls us to set the bar and not crawl under it. Sin is unavoidable, broken people are unavoidable, and to an extent, failure is unavoidable, so again: what can we do?

Here’s what we need to realize: failure may be inevitable, but usually there are red flags along the way that, if detected, could save both the person and the ministry a horrible blow-up.

Accountability is so huge, especially in ministry. Sometimes, because of pride, leaders look at accountability as an invasion of privacy instead of a hedge of protection. We don’t want people asking us about finances because of course we are stewarding God’s money well! We don’t need to answer questions about counseling the opposite sex or what we do with our computer time because we are God’s servants and if anyone understands purity we do! People better not ask us about our family dynamics because obviously we can lead our families if we can lead a church.

This type of mindset is riddled with pride. We should not only invite accountability, we should demand it. receives emails from pastors all the time who slipped into habitual pornography viewing quite unintentionally; the majority of these pastors have no accountability. Maybe if they were using X3watch, their accountability partner would have confronted them earlier and spared them years of addiction and self-imposed shame.

Everyone needs accountability, but in ministry it is absolutely critical! Most men don’t start with child molestation or escorts… they start with porn. Most pastors don’t spontaneously have an affair; they do so because their relationships with women in the church weren’t being kept in check. If you don’t want the ministry God has blessed you with to end disastrously, then you need to GET ACCOUNTABLE.

Put in safety measures. Insist on a culture of transparency among your staff members. Install X3watch on all your leaders’ digital devices and make sure they have trustworthy accountability partners in place who will love them, but love God more.

Yes, it may be uncomfortable. It may not be welcomed by all your staff. However, you are called to God and his churches first and foremost, so fear of man issues aren’t going to cut it as far as the excuses go. If you love God, love your church, and love your staff you should insist on and implement strong accountability measures. A red flag is easier to address than the aftermath of a scandal.


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