The Church and the Leaders Accountability
I will not review and exposit each of the above individual qualities necessary to be an elder. Instead I would ask, “who then ensures that the elder maintains these standards while functioning as a church elder?”
Some possible answers include:
- God holds the leader accountable and it is to God alone that the elder must answer. This by the way would probably only be said of a ‘chief elder’.
- It’s the congregation that God uses to enforce His accountability.
- Those who ordained him.
- The other elders hold him accountable.
In reality all of the above answers are true. We have discussed how God holds all of us accountable. The pastor or elder is responsible and answerable to his congregation as well. 1 Tim:5:20 reveals that in certain instances the elder may be brought by the other elders before the congregation and rebuked. Then in verse 21 Paul encourages Timothy not to be partial about this. The following verse therefore gives very relevant advice “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other peoples sins...”(by avoiding accountability!).
In what areas should the pastor or leader be accountable to his congregation? Here are some suggestions:
- Doctrine: the local church will hear us preach day in and day out. Any member of the congregation has the right and responsibility to bring to the pastor’s attention concerns about anything taught that is questionable. The congregation should also be encouraged to compare what they are learning to other sources of teaching. They should be encouraged to be “Bereans,” not shunned or penalized for asking questions.
- Finances: the local church again will witness a pastor’s handling of money. Each pastor should voluntarily restrict his handling of finances to administration only with no direct or hands on management of funds. The pastor may lead through the vision of the local church and by wisdom in this area, but should not count money or write checks. He should honor the budget set by the board of elders and never make financial decisions outside of the budget without the approval of the elders.
- Dealings with the opposite sex: At a time in history when so many pastors and leaders are falling into sexual sins, it is vital that we have policies in place that guard pastors in this area of ministry. A leader must never counsel or be with a woman alone other than his wife – ever. He must also be a gentlemanly example of discretion in both action and conversation. The local leadership must hold one another to these standards. It is not some other man or men, hundreds of miles away that will hold him to good practices and standards, but his own elders and leaders. Pastors should also ensure that each staff member understands and honors this approach.
- Family schedule: many a pastor has destroyed his own family on the altar of his church. Who will be the first to see this coming but those who are eyewitnesses to his schedule?