Identifying Your Church’s Disclosure Culture (part 2 of Disclosure v Discovery)

Last week’s post appealed for us to all to disclose rather than be discovered. As discovery of certain issues in one’s life (particularly church leaders) really limits the positive outcomes in a church context.

For the notable national Christian leaders who have been “discovered” in the last couple years for their sinful ways, I wonder how the outcomes could have been different if they would have disclosed (before the sin patterns progressed)?

While sin and the evil one are powerful persuaders for nondisclosure, I also wonder if there was something in the churches they served that implicitly or even explicitly said, “If you disclose…you’re gone…so conceal well”?

Most of us as church leaders don’t want to have hard conversations. So, we often turn a blind eye and keep from investigating the stuff we sense is off in one’s life. In these cases, we’re simply delaying the inevitable and becoming (somewhat) complicit in allowing a person’s life to disqualified from serving in ministry.

Culture check-up

How you respond to these will likely correlate with the likelihood of staff ministers disclosing something before it’s too far gone to rescue them or without collateral damage to the church…

Do you have built in accountability systems?

Is there a systematic time for a supervisor to ask questions about their life? Spiritual health? Their struggles? Can staff expect someone will be inquiring about their soul? About their time with God? About their marriage and friendships?

Are you intentionally investing in holistic care?

Many of us are intentional about developing skills related to our team’s ministry work (presentational skills, time management, relational skills, continuing education). But how are you equipping them to become more like Jesus?

Minister haven’t arrived spiritually; they too need development.

Do you provide resources? Do you encourage and provide time for them to be a participant in a group or Bible study? Do you encourage spiritual retreat days? Sabbaticals? Our development of ministers should include equipping and expecting them to grow like Christ. If you think your ministers should be beyond needing your church to make sure they’re growing toward Christ, then I believe you’ll ultimately be disappointed.

Do you have a history of handling these hard issues well?

When people have made mistakes (sinful or just errors)—how has your team seen you handle them? Would they say your response was holy? Could they tell you sought out Biblical and Holy Spirit guidance before responding? Did they see you keep your mouth shut when others were begging for gossip? Did the see you restore people to ministry roles when the situation allowed for it? Did they see you care for person even if you had to end their employment?

Has your staff ever heard your pastor or key leader admit mistakes? A sin?

If fulfilling James 5:16 sounds completely aspirational and never modeled within your church, then disclosure will be minimal. I get it…the pastor confessing sin to other staff could be problematic. But do staff know the pastor does have a person(s) where James 5:16 happens? Does everyone have accountability? If there’s no transparency, it’s a breeding ground for concealment. And at some point, discovery.

We want or churches to be healthy. This means our church’s leaders need to be healthy. Their health will be aided by a healthy church and leadership culture (I’m reading a great book on this, Paul Tripp’s Lead).

Let’s shepherd all of our church, including its leaders.

p.s. I’m not a counselor. But I am a pastor. And if you need to disclose something without any strings attached or without me being connected to your church, I’m willing to listen. Sin thrives in darkness and concealment, so if I can serve you, reach out (Brian@wellspringchurch.com).

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