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Ministry financial watchdog developing ministry ‘standard’ for leadership care

The ongoing scandal at International House of Prayer KC is just one of many allegations of misconduct that continue to roil the church. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability is responding by developing a new leadership accountability standard for member ministries.

The ECFA began working on the new standards in March. The prominent evangelical nonprofit watchdog organization is seeking feedback for the project until the end of this month, and the new standard is expected to be released later this year.

“The new leadership standard will seamlessly join our existing standards of integrity in matters of governance, financial accountability and stewardship,” Michael Martin, the organization’s president and CEO says. “Specifically, the leadership standard will require ECFA-accredited organizations to take proactive steps to care for and support the health and integrity of their senior leaders.”

READ: Church associated with International House of Prayer KC closes

The standard gives member organizations significant latitude to implement a process best suited for their contexts, he said. It will require the boards of ECFA-accredited churches and ministries “to engage their leaders at least annually to discuss holistic care and the leader’s commitment to upholding mutually agreed-on biblical principles.”

Martin cited the December 2021 ECFA survey of more than 800 board chairs, finding that 94 percent of surveyed respondents indicated that integrity failures are having a negative impact on trust.

Journalist Julie Roys says Protestants are realizing scandal can hit any ministry or church. “From scandals involving Bill Hybels to Mark Darling to Sovereign Grace Ministries and Bob Jones University, it’s clear that we have our own problems. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church doesn’t have a monopoly on sex abuse or the ability to cover it up,” she wrote in Sept. 2018.

More recent scandals involving well-known figures and ministries include: Southern Baptists abuse scandals, Mars Hill, Hillsong, Kanakuk Kamps, Eddie Long, Assemblies of God & Chai Alpha, Ravi Zacharias Ministry, Bethel Music, John Ortberg, Liberty University, Harvest Bible Chapel, James River Church, John Ankerberg, TD Jakes, and Reggie Joiner among hundreds.

“We acknowledge that in a fallen world, it’s impossible to prevent all failures in leadership,” he said. “As with other ECFA accreditation standards, the goal of the new leadership standard is not perfection. The standard is designed to support the integrity and well-being of leaders, to assist accredited organizations in implementing appropriate safeguards and to assure donors that prudent steps are being taken in critical areas to reinforce trust.”

Writing for PremierChristianity, a UK-based religious website, Rend Collective founding member Chris Llewellyn states,  “We have sometimes made idols of leaders. Only Jesus is strong enough to bear the full weight of our faith – and recent times have been a hard lesson in what happens when we put someone else on his throne. I take hope in the fact that we seem to be putting less stock in famous Christians, and refocusing on Christ himself (who, might I add, remains scandal-free).”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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