Church Accountability

Ten Traits of a Truth Teller  by Angela J. Kaufman
Transparency Torn Paper Concept.


Confrontation and Hesitation

Marshall Shelley, in his book, Well-Intentioned Dragons, talks about the consequences of hesitating in order to allow a person to continue their damaging behavior. Here is what he says.  “If the first causality in dragon warfare are vision and initiative, the next victim is outreach.” If within the church context, we fail or hesitate in halting bad behavior, the result is the slow death of the church body. If we lose vision, we will eventually reject any form of reaching out to others. Thus, the mission of the church is permanently immobilized.

G. Lloyd Rediger, in his book, Clergy Killers, describes it this way.  “Everything looks as it has for years, unless someone notes the stress lines in the pastor’s face, and the congregation’s lack of enthusiasm for mission programs.” Again, the purpose of the church has ceased to exist.  We are too absorbed with self and cannot look outward toward the pain of others. Sometimes we need to hesitate in order to gather wisdom and grace. But other times, such as refusing to stop a problem, our hesitation destroys any chance of healing and growth.

Does this bring it into a new perspective for you?  Does the act of hesitating become a more urgent matter for you? What is the health of your church?  How are lies affecting your outreach? What is your next move?  Are you prepared to personally step up to the problem you face in your congregation?

We are back to the premise of this book.  How well do Christians recognize evil?  When do we apply this admonition from Jesus to turn the other cheek and when do we apply accountability with one another?

This struggle to know when and how to act is not common of the church alone.  Many professions must grapple with their decisions and the consequences on individual lives. Why for instance, does my husband recognize behavior patterns?  His job as a psychologist is to know how people behave and why.  In his work with addicts, evil displays itself constantly in the lies he sees, hears, and is witness to every day. Many others, such as county attorneys, police, and judges, are sensitive to these behaviors, too. By virtue of their jobs, they see lies, both overt and covert, fairly frequently. Their work puts them in the middle of evil’s slime.  They can recognize it quickly. 

Let’s look at churches in general.  Who do they deal with?  Sinners and saints. Churches are a place for the “ good news, ” the gospel, salvation, hope, love and second chances. That’s our message to the world.  So it is explainable, but not excusable, that the church is ignorant of how to deal with bad behavior or acts of evil.  We pretend to live in our safe and secure little realm of good and do not know how to act in the realm of the real world, and the evil that dwells there.  Professions, such as, attorneys and psychologists are more at home, if you will, than churches are in this field of lies and deception. 

How many times were there doctors, psychologists, experts and spiritually mature Christians speaking out, but not being recognized or heard? Numerous case studies in Part I and II of the book Lies in the Church were filled with just such professionals. May we acknowledge their advice and wisdom and learn how to move forward on this journey towards truth.


So, why do we talk about chuch accountability? Prevention.  Keeping people accountable will prevent future pain.  Miranda Twiss in her book, The Most Evil Men And Women In History, provides these common threads of behavior.  All the historically evil people she mentions in her book, such as Nero, Attila the Hun, “ Bloody” Mary I, Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin  had 1) unlimited power over people, 2) had many other people willing to join in the atrocities, and 3) gave something that they wanted to the population at large at the cost of other freedoms or cruelty to their fellow humans.
Historically, even though some may have spoken truth (they are usually permanently silenced), these evil tyrants were not halted until a group could or did call them into accountability. 

From his book, Antagonists in the Church, Kenneth C. Haugk states, “It’s ironic.  In spite of all the atrocities and mass murders committed in this century, the church still hasn’t fully caught on to the reality of evil.  In a day when many psychologists and other scientists are ready to acknowledge the frightening reality of super human evil forces, the church all too often misses the boat.”

We want to get to the place where we have built up enough experience to know, without a doubt or hesitation, that life gets better after confronting evil. That the pain is less after confronting than the pain that occurred initially. The longer we deny our responsibility to confront wrong and evil, the worse the pain is to deal with in the aftermath. Just consider one small leak in a dam.  Repairing the leak is nothing compared to restoring the loss of lives and property from a flood.

What can be done about accountability in the church as a whole?  For starters, Ken Sande suggests that when the inquiries of church membership begin, a church needs to be up front about their church discipline policy.  “Ask all members to sign a written covenant that makes reference to your disciplinary commitments.” Doing so, will provide a preventative step if spiritual problems arise and accountability is required.

It does not take long for us to look around and see that the most vibrant churches are the ones who have high expectations of its members.  What are the expectations of your church?
What requirements or accountability factors are in place?  What safety measures are written in the policy at your church so that power is not abused?

What if your area of accountability is more personal and happens between you and another individual?   How do we hold each other accountable? In the book God Talks To You, Perkinson reveals a formula that can help.  “ …You will tell people how you feel and ask them for what you want. That keeps people informed about how they affect you and it holds people accountable for their actions. ” Robert R. Perkinson, God Talks To You, ( 1st Books, 2000), 128- 29.

This is not to imply telling the truth is easy or the results you want will magically happen. But it is a reminder that you will experience peace and gain strength when you walk in the truth. Church accountability is a staple of personal growth and spiritual growth.  It is a vital behavior to learn when confronting evil and lies.  Be brave and bold.  God is with us. Silhouettes of two men holding each other responsible for church accountability.


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Marshall Shelley, Well-Intentioned Dragons, Ministering to Problem People in the Church, WORD books, Waco, Texas, 1985, Marshall Shelley, Well-Intentioned Dragons, Ministering to Problem People in the Church, WORD books, Waco, Texas, 1985, p. 42.

G. Lloyd Rediger, Clergy Killers, Guidance for Pastors and Congregations Under Attack, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 1997, p. 7.

Miranda Twiss, The Most Evil Men And Women In History, Barnes & Nobles, Inc., New York, 2002) pp. 7-8.

Kenneth C. Haugk Antagonists in the Church, How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflict, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1988), 42.

James Newton Poling, The Abuse of Power, A Theological Problem (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1991), 158.

Ibid., p. 157.

Ibid., pp. 157-158.

Ibid., p. 158.

Ken Sande, “Keeping the Lawyers at Bay,” Christianity Today, August 2005, 35.

Robert R. Perkinson, God Talks To You, (1st Books, 2000), 128-29.

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