On Elder Accountability

shepherd2 I stumbled across an article by Dub Orr, a retired elder for the 11th and Willis Church of Christ, that I just have to share. But first, a little background.

Whether the topic is church growth or church survival, in the Churches of Christ, the elders make or break a congregation. We often say that it’s the most important job in the world, and I think that’s right — but we don’t treat it that way.

We all have secular jobs. I think mine is pretty typical in a couple of ways. First, I’m expected to actually be good at what I do. If I do a lousy job, I’ll lose my job. It’s called accountability.

And the higher I rise in my profession, the more accountable I’ve become. I mean, as new hire, everyone understood that I was clueless. But that was a long time ago, and now I’m supposed to be an expert.

Second, I’m supposed to get better through study and attending classes. Whether I’m an electrician or a salesman or a lawyer, I have to keep up with my trade, or else I’ll lose my job.

But we make very little effort to train our elders and we do even less to hold them accountable. Rather, like the U.S. Supreme Court, if we make a bad selection, we just wait until they die or get too sick to serve. In the meantime, the church suffers — and suffers greatly.

There are different ways for an elder to be accountable. Some stand for periodic re-affirmation. Some have a covenant that they’ll step aside if asked to do so by the other elders. But some mechanism must be established. And the time to do it is when everything is going great. It’ll be much harder when things are going badly.

Sadly, there are men of influence in the Churches who so badly misunderstand the scriptures that they think it’s wrong for elders to be accountable. But only the Godhead is above accountability.

And so, here’s The Accountability of Elders, by Dub Orr. All elders must be accountable to their congregations all the time, everywhere — somehow or other.

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One Response

  1. In my experience, the articles of incorporation and bylaws of an incorporated church typically address the difficult scenarios such as a divided board of directors. In our congregation, the board members are all elders (though it is set up so that a subset of the elders might be serving on the board at any given time). That provides a mechanism for resolving any impasse that might arise in the decision making process. While we attempt to always make decisions by consensus, we have the corporate process to fall back on, if necessary. Among other things, that provides the eldership with a process for holding one another accountable, and a way of dealing with a poorly performing elder.

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