Church Staff Can't Avoid Accountability

Oftentimes, pastors and church staff find it difficult to carry the idea of being accountable, according to one Canada pastor.

Some church leaders think they should not have to give an account of their work because God called them, said the Rev. Rick Hayden, pastor of Parkway Bible Church in Scarborough, Ontario.

"Leaders do not like to be accountable," said Ken Godevenos, president of Accord Resolutions Services Inc., an independent management consulting firm, in a "webinar" conducted by Church Business magazine.

Some believe they are "called" by God to their specific position and thus should not be accountable to man. And as God's representatives, some feel they can be "more independent of supervision," according to Godevenos.

But accountability safeguards church staff from "changing or unreasonable expectations," stressed Hayden.

"All of us are called to whatever role we're serving .... [The] need for us is to subject ourselves to those who have governing authority over us ... even in a church," he stated.

For Hayden, accountability means having clearly set goals and results areas and a set of shared values with the church staff, he noted.

Each church staff person is accountable to God, his/her employer, congregants, colleagues and those he or she is trying to reach. But if a pastor with a congregation of hundreds of members tries to be accountable to every member in the church, "you're going to drive yourself crazy," said Hayden, whose main "boss" is a church board.

Yet a majority of congregants don't even think about how accountable church staff are because they don't necessarily worry about it, said Godevenos. Those who do worry are mainly lay leaders and the "perception" of how accountable some staff are to them "is not great," he further noted.

In any case, churches need to act. And when it comes to church management, accountability is not an option.

Accountability has been around since Adam and Eve were responsible for the Garden of Eden, Godevenos pointed out.

Being accountable requires pastors and church staff to accept the obligation to report to another person; to stand up and be counted for what is right; and to put the best interests of their congregants before their own, listed Godevenos among other points.

The consultant encourages church staff to not only be accountable but also "transparent." While accountability is more suitable to attracting only negative feedback after a decision or action, transparency enables such feedback before or during the making or implementation of a decision. It "requires 'open books' up front," said Godevenos.

Nevertheless, "you can't avoid accountability."