Disclosure v. Discovery

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Habitual sin? A one-time gross misjudgment? An addiction?

Disclosure is better than discovery.

Is that mindset a part of your church’s leadership culture?

At some point in my ministry career I began to have the conversation with prospective staff ministers about errors they may make or systematic sins they might be concealing. And on behalf of the church, I’d remark something like…

When you disclose it (said issue) to us versus us discovering it, the road to you remaining with us on staff and helping you is much easier. Either way, we will graceful, but grace abounds more in disclosure rather than our discovery.

I’d go on to make comments such as-

  • If we know about it and know before it’s gone too far, the possibility of right-standing is greater
  • Even with disclosure, I cannot guarantee you’d keep your job, as there are several factors. But you have my personal commitment to walk alongside you and get you the help needed
  • While discovery on our part doesn’t mean we limit our understanding nature or preclude righteous outcomes, it does speak to your intention and a pattern (of sin, concealment, repetition)

This conversation happened as one of the last conversations before the decision point of someone joining the staff. I wanted them to know we took things seriously that could harm them, others in the congregation, and the name of Christ. I wanted them to know our staff’s culture was committed to graceful responses and we had systems to help mitigate these kinds of things before they happened (next week’s blog).

I recall scenarios of both disclosure and discovery. Each one required Biblical examination based on the issue and its response. Each one required the Spirit’s power in them, and us as church leaders to respond effectively.

Some of the “oops” moment(s) were acknowledged as wrong, confessed and the road to right-standing began with safeguards for them and the church. Others were fireable-on-the-spot occurrences. Others meant a reduction in job duties, or a timeout (“administrative leave” in many fields) until we could understand more and discern the best course of action.

Just having the “disclosure v. discovery” conversation is not enough. It requires a plan. It requires resources to help. But maybe more than anything, it requires a culture within your church’s leadership that creates trust so people would disclose and not fear ungraceful and punitive-minded treatment.

Thoughts on culture and systems to help create a disclosure environment is for next week’s post.

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