Potentially Perilous “Polity”

trouble ahead

Warren Cole Smith was the publisher of WORLD Magazine.  Presently, Warren Cole Smith is President of Ministry Watch, an organization that examines the conduct of a breadth of different ministries, and primarily local churches.  He just published “Faith Based Fraud.”

Recently, he has made some noteworthy, but not surprising comments concerning pastoral irresponsibility and accountability.  He stated that when it comes to local churches, he repeatedly observed that  . . . .”the bottom line is that there is very little accountability.”  That caused him to look for a common characteristic.  He states that his search . . .

“. . . opened my eyes to looking for that form of church government and church governance. So what the fancy word for that is church polity in other churches, and I found it, unfortunately, to be common in the evangelical world.”

Warren repeatedly realized that the factor was pastors and church leaders, “men who have very little accountability.”  The ministry or the church lacked the knowledgeable and necessary people within the ministry to address self-serving decisions.

In essence, the ministry was “staff run,” and what was happening was self-contained and managed by the pastor and/or his staff.

On the other side, the church members, and even lay officials, did not know what most of the staff knew.

There was no one “in the know” who would speak up, and the church members who would speak up, were not “in the know.”

Folks who are not really in a position to say, “Hey, dude, you need to do things differently here.”  Because the folks who are in a position to do that are usually people that are on the payroll of the church, and can be fired by that senior pastor. And of course, it makes them very reluctant to speak up.

The poisonous brew is the concentration of power.  A threatening staff environment ensues.  Those who should and could speak to the issues, don’t — and for good reason!  The church polity has sanctioned the inherent dangers which silence dissent.

When God’s people have little-to-no control over the election-nomination process, the hiring and firing decisions, or the operationally significant decision-making proceedings, things can go terribly wrong.

Number One — “Folks who are in a position to say — “Hey, dude, what are you doing.” — remain quiet.

Number Two — “The church,” which has the authority, has no awareness as to what has or is actually happening.

Warren is correct when he looks at church polity for where the most serious of problems are coming from in the local church setting.  Tell me how your church is organized, and you will find one of the first clues as to where the potential or actual problems are arising.

√ Elder-Rule
√ Deacon-Rule
√ Pastor-Rule
√ Long-time Member(s) Rule
√ CRINO – Congregational Rule In Name Only
√ Congregational-Rule

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