Accountability should be at the core of every bible believing ministry - no excuses. Accountability means the state of being accountable, liable and answerable to those who are before you. Before we go any further into this blog ask yourself this question, If Hebrews 13:17 tells me to submit to authority, then what does that mean for me if that authority has no accountability on Earth (because they most certainly do by our heavenly father)? Ask yourself what does that mean for me if the person who I report to doesn't follow any code of accountability? You can Google just about any major mega-church and find gossip and lack of accountability in some of the most respected institutions of Growth and spread of the Gospel - what went wrong? I have some thoughts on this and if any of these current or former leaders read this then my prayer is that truth (in love) will resonate and allow them to hear the Holy Spirit comfort them, encourage them, and urge them to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ. I will not claim to have all the right answers nor can I say that what I may suggest in the post is the way that everyone should go. What I will say is to test what Lance and I say through these posts - test them with Scripture and examine them closely and pray on what we say - if they pass this examination and test - well, then, the rest is up to you.
First and foremost, I want to say that whatever I may say, Lance may say, a preacher or elder or teacher or business leader may say - if it is not about Jesus Christ being the first and the last - then it is very unfruitful in the ways of building disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn't want fans - he wants followers. That means that each and every one of us, who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Savior, we were bought with a price. Our lives no longer belong to us or our wants, they belong to God. What we do in this life is how we honor him with our stewardship of His time, talent and treasure that He gives each and every one of us who belong to Him..
Some questions, that we as members of bible believing churches can ask leadership who have accountability:
- What is their fruit?
- Who are they accountable to (a church board? a board of Elders? A consistory?)?
- As I test what they say, teach and witness to, does it hold true to Scripture?
- Is it about Jesus, reaching the disconnected and growing the connected?
What is their fruit? On a piece of paper draw a line down the middle of the page. On the left side write the subject: Fruit of the Sinful Nature and on the right side write the subject: Fruit of the Spirit? Your list should be based solely on what Scripture says in Galatians Chapter 5. The Apostle Paul gives the Church a stern warning in this before he gives us the list of each fruit in Galatians 5, "13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another."
Who are they accountable to? If your church leader(s) do not have biblical accountability in their lives, in their work and in their daily regiments, I want to caution you. In my church, we have a Consistory, which consists of the three offices of the Church: The Pastoral, Elders and Deacons who oversee the Church. The Management Team in some churches is set up to "manage" the daily operations of the Church, while the Elders are called to take care of the Spiritual well-being of the church and to make sure that the word of God is preached and to care for the flock. The Deacons are called to take care of the needs of the church and the pastoral is called to teach and preach and feed God's sheep through the Word of God. We have accountability and we encourage each other to live a life worthy of Christ. We gauge each other on the fruit that we see. Sometimes we disagree, sometimes we can even argue, but as long as the word of God is consistent in our lives, then we can agree to disagree letting the truth of God's word reign in our lives.
Examine & Test: Do we/they pass the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5-9 (ESV) 5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for." One of the things that makes me cringe, as an Elder in our church, is when individuals say that this is what God is saying to them and what they should be doing (Please don't take this wrong, because we both know that the Holy Spirit dwells in those who are followers of Christ and the Holy Spirit guides us in the ways that we ought to go. We also believe that God talks to us through His Spirit, His Word, His preaching and teaching and when the Fruit of the Spirit is pouring over that direction). What I am talking about here is when someone says that God is telling them something and nothing that I just previously mentioned lines up with that. One of the things that I see most men struggle with (including me) is submission and obedience. Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) "17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you." Before you believe that you are giving us leaders a "blank check" read this from Jesus's brother, James 3:1-2 (ESV) Taming the Tongue, “3 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” Leaders will be judged at a greater strictness (by whom, you ask, He who will judge all of us - Jesus Christ).
There are two leaders that I really respect and I have come to really appreciate their preaching and teaching. I appreciate how they challenge each of us to be better in their walks. I appreciate how they love the church and the body and how they love Jesus. Are these men perfect? By no means, they are all mere men and they sin every day (trust me - we all do). So, than, if they do not have accountability, a board of Elders and Deacons and a Consistory to hold them in that accountability, then what are we to do for the body?
On the other side of this, are those who have been hurt, misguided, victimized and or maligned by lack of this accountability. Does this allow us, who profess the name of Jesus Christ, to blog about, tear them down, print nasty and bitter words? What is the fruit in this? What does this say to the lost (the World) who is watching? Does that make them want to follow Christ and his teachings? Does that make them want to believe in the Word of God and the power of His Spirit to overcome the worst of sins in each and every one of us?
Are these words that are printed, recorded and redistributed loving one another? Are they made to build up the church and to edify its members? Are they there to love our neighbor as ourselves? I would like to gently say - NO! These words are from the pit of hell (not the person writing them or the individuals who have been made victims or the like). I am talking about the very essence of these words - they are from the pit of hell. How can I say this? How can I know this? How can I believe this? Please re-read Galatians 5, Ephesians 4 and the very word of God.
These blogs, these news stories, these videos are bearing the fruit of the sinful nature (discord, disunity, factions and the like). Any fruit that bears the fruit of the sinful nature IS FROM THE PIT OF HELL!
Now that I have probably made some of you uncomfortable, some hurt and some confused, let me re-direct you back to the point of this article - ACCOUNTABILITY. The last point about accountability is this:
Is it about Jesus? (are we bearing his fruit? Are we reaching the disconnected? Are we growing the connected?) Are church has a few core mission statements and one of the biggest is that it should always be about Jesus (from beginning to the end) and the other that we use a lot is: Reaching the Disconnected and Growing the Connected. I love this because Jesus first loved me in all my broken-ness. His father (God the Father) loved me so much that He gave His only Son for me. And if that weren't already enough, when He rose again (Jesus the Christ) and now sits at the right hand of God, He gave His Spirit to each one of us who confess His name. Talk about love! Talk about forgiveness! Talk about the great story ever told. If you are in a church (which we are called to be in community as God the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are in community. This is healthy and this is the body of Christ. Therefore, we are to build each other up, to teach each other how to use our gifts. We are to edify each other in truth with love.
No matter how bad the offense, the leader, the lack of accountability I can clearly promise you (through the very word of God) that every tongue will confess and every knee will bow. I can promise you that those are teach and lead and direct God's sheep in the wrong direction - will be held at a higher level of judgement. All of this belongs to God. I can also tell you this, without any doubt, that God IS IN CONTROL. No matter the right or the wrong, God is still in control. His plans will succeed and he will never fail.
What if we go through these very trials and tribulations to build us up and to test our faith in order for God to use us for greater things for His Kingdom. Can we pass the test? Can we forgive as Christ has forgiven us? Can we love the Lord our God with all of heart, mind, body and soul and just like this commandment, can we love our neighbor as our selves?
This is the Gospel. This is the truth.
If you are a leader and have no accountability then repent, turn from these ways and make it all about God. Love! If you are a follower or a member of a body of the church, then submit and obey and trust that God is in control. Ask the right questions to those who truly have biblical accountability because when do ask these leaders they will pray, reflect and repent because it shouldn't be about them, rather, it is always about God and His Kingdom. If you find yourself speaking for God and no one else confirms this, nor scripture nor the fruit of the Spirit THEN REPENT, turn the other way and love! Love one another thus fulfilling the command of Jesus.
If you are a leader and a denomination that says that you have accountability and you and your church are trying to justify sin (that is clearly listed and labeled truth in Scripture) then REPENT and turn away from these wicked practices. God will forgive and his church will restore you as we are called to do. If you are a member and you are living in sin and/or trying to justify sinful (hypocritical) behavior then REPENT and turn away from these evil practices.
When the body comes together in unity and loves one another, NOT EVEN THE GATES OF HELL can prevail.