I guess this will conclude what has become an unintentionally tripartite thought reflection on accountability structures. That is, unless something else crops up to prompt more.
So what do we do for people who feel that the implementation of accountability structures like auditors and child protection policies compromises the trust relationships within a fellowship?
I think the first thing we have to do is admit that there is a valid point to be taken from that feeling. The whole concept of checks and balances in the secular world is one based on fear and mistrust, and the desire to protect oneself, to create hedges. That sort of thinking is, quite simply, anathema to a fellowship. Church fellowships are based on trust, mutual vulnerability, and love. We do well, I think, to admit that those differences exist, and we need to affirm those who sense them. We would be making a mistake to vilify these folks. They are, IMO, acting like an early warning system; they are telling us that we are incorporating a system whose foundational principles are contrary to the foundational principles of fellowship. We should listen to the those warnings.
That said, we need to also admit that there is nothing necessarily contradictory to fellowship to be found in accountability systems. As I said, in the secular world the foundational principles of such systems are incompatible with those of fellowship. Yet I think we can and should work to discern, not to say manufacture, principles that are compatible with fellowship to have such structures. We can have child protection policies for the sake of outreach; we make it easier to reach out to the children of the world by addressing the fears of the parents for one example. Having financial accountability structures makes it easier for us conduct business, like building projects, getting loans and mortgages, which will further the ministry of the church for another.
At the same time though I think we need to confess we have done a poor job as a Body of doing this. We have too easily given in to and accepted the paranoia and fear principles that the secular world puts forward for such policies and structures. That acceptance has led us to marginalise those who disagree with the structures.
So I think we need to reach out to those whom we would otherwise eye suspiciously for their lack of enthusiasm for such structures. We need to show the very love of, and for, fellowship, that these folks express by their opposition.
Now, that is not to say that there are not people who have something to hide, or that there are no people who simply kick because they have authority issues and don't like being restricted. But we need to deal with them pastorally as well. Those who have things to hide need to be helped to come into the open, and to be loved. Those with authority issues, really a spirit of rebellion, need to be helped to embrace mutual submission.
I believe it can be done, and if there is one weakness accountability policies and structures have, it is a lack of pastoral concern. That isn't''t inherent to them, but it is the way we implement them and use them. That needs to change.
Enough rambling. Let me know what you think.