Church Whistleblowers

We all know the Bible sets up specific courses of action when we have something against a brother.

And an even more stringent set of guidelines applies if an accusation is made against an elder.

So… is it ever right to be a church whistleblower?

Let’s say you’re on staff at a church and you discover your senior pastor is having an affair.  You’re the only one that has this information.  What should you do?

Or, you’re on staff at a church and you and another person (maybe it’s you and your wife) know of a sin issue that needs to be addressed.

There’s just one problem:  confronting the issue with the senior pastor will most definitely achieve just one thing:  your quick and unequivocal firing.

Is there EVER a time that you should go to the church board or elders BEFORE you go to the individual?  For employment reasons?  For physical safety reasons?

(Please don’t blast me… I’m not trying to get anyone to circumvent scripture in any way.  I just know that real life situations are never nearly as cut and dry as people think.  Just ask anyone in the situation.)

Another instance where I’d ask the ‘whistleblower’ question is when someone actually DOES go through the scriptural guidelines to try to make things right, but the leadership ignores the admonition.  Is it ever right for a church member to call their bluff by ‘whistleblowing’?  Of should the person just leave the church?

It’s happening more and more… just watch the headlines. Read the blogs.  Whistleblowing is becoming more and more prevalent in the church today.

The question is… where do you draw the line?

What do YOU think?

Is there ever a time when church whistleblowing is justified?



  • agirl August 7, 2013 Reply

    I thought “whistleblowing” was appropriate behavior. If pastors are firing people for calling out unethical behavior, well then Im glad Im not in a church anymore.

  • davepatchin August 7, 2013 Reply

    Todd, tough question. Scripture tells us that an abundance of counselors produces safety (Prov 11:14), so it seem acceptable to seek advice on how to handle a situation while still avoiding gossip.

    I’d pursue one or two elders for their input on how to handle confronting the lead pastor in general (no details) before going directly to the lead pastor. IF it all goes badly, you have some recourse with the elders. If the pastor repents, you are the brother to help lead them toward restoration.

    If a lead pastor is so wretched that a truthful admonition from a staff member would produce instant “retribution,” then the elders are likely aware of the character failings and should be ready to protect the staff.

    If the elders ignore the whole issue, I’d shake the dust off my feet. In that situation, regardless of what you do you should be looking for a new church. But I’d not go public with the accusation…just inform all injured spouses.

  • James August 8, 2013 Reply

    Hello Todd;
    Great subject, where I’m sure many can relate. I’ve been on the blunt end of the spear in this particular topic.
    The topic was not grievous like an affair, or even close to that. But it certainly was an ethical issue of lying and distortion of facts to the staff and then to the congregation.
    When I shared my view that I felt it was inaccurate information that was being given, trying to take a less confrontative position, the Sr. Pastor took offense and I was shunned and later I quit.
    In my experience, which is very limited when it comes to whistle blowing, I’ve often see the messaged being shot, killed, drawn and quarter, ostracized, pasturized etc.
    Exposing peoples “faults”, “sins”, cover-ups has a price tag if the individual, or individuals are not people of integrity. So just expect to get the short end of the stick. And of course why not expect the short end when you do blow the whistle. Isn’t that why you blew the whistle in the first is because you saw something that wasn’t right and you thought taking the high road was the best choice?
    So in a way we better not expect a nice loving, warm fuzzy, conciliatory response. I’ve seen a lot of corruption, lack of integrity, lying, twisting of the truth from many leaders and have seen very very few, if any “brought” to justice. And sadly most of the abuse has been from religious leaders either in churches or leaders with businesses as leaders and CEO’s.
    It would be a great world if we could all cover each other’s backs and protect one another and when we got out of line to coming loving back in line. But I’ve to see it done, at least very consistently.
    Keep Looking to Jesus

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