How do we preserve the church?
There is bad news and there is good news in the church today. The bad news is that over 3700 churches closed in a single year. The good news is that over 4000 new churches were planted during that same year. The even better news is that new church plants are effectively reaching new people with the Gospel rather than just reshuffling the church attendance decks. How do we keep our churches healthy, vibrant, and effective? One obvious place to start according to LifeWay research is church planting. Study after study suggests that new church plants are significantly more likely to reach new people. Preserving the church sometimes means we make a clean start with a church plant and turn our attention to reaching new families and individuals. Whether your church is new or long-standing, every church that wants a healthy and secure ministry will need to set up policies for leadership accountability and working with children. In the case of Sovereign Grace Ministries, years of lawsuits and accusations have revealed that church leaders and denominational leaders conspired to cover the sexual abuse of children. At the center of the controversy is a senior pastor and denominational leader who still faces pending lawsuits and numerous accusations from close colleagues that he hid leaders who abused children, forced victims to meet with their accusers, and stood in the way of the legal process. How do we avoid these tragic situations? By enacting clear staff policies that ensure every church leader has support and accountability, while church staff take clear steps to check and oversee staff and volunteers who work with children. We can also protect the integrity of our churches and pastors by developing financial policies that ensure pastors have only the information they require. Some churches even go as far as hiring an outside person to manage finances and to deliver reports to leaders. Other churches appoint a single volunteer or staff member to take the lead with a finance team or board of elders. There isn’t one right way to set up financial management and accountability systems. The keys are to ensure that there are checks and balances to ensure that tithes are handled responsibly, leaders are given essential information, and no one has too much power or secrecy to do significant damage to the church.