Monday, October 31, 2005

Accountability

At CTK we prefer the word "support" to "accountability." But this is not to say that we have no accountability. It’s just that accountability expresses itself differently at CTK:

First, the Holy Spirit is our guide. Jesus heard the same concern I sometimes hear: “How will we know the way?” (only it’s usually “How will they know the way?”). Jesus’ answer was: “I’m going to send you another Counselor who will be with you forever. He will guide you into all the truth.” We are taking Jesus up on His promise to guide us into the truth. I or other pastors cannot personally be at every small group meeting to see that things go a certain way, but the Holy Spirit can. We are dependent on the Spirit to give leadership to God’s people. I sometimes ask people, “Has God ever taught you something?” Invariably the answer is “Yes.” Then I say, “Well, you can count on Him doing the same thing for others.”

Second, our mission statement defines the outcomes that we are looking for, and we are all accountable to its expectations. Our mission is "To create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people in love, acceptance and forgiveness so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship." The mission statement speaks to what we want to be (an authentic Christian community) and what we want to do (effectively reach out to unchurched people). If we cease to be what we’ve set out to be, or do what we’ve set out to do, then our mission statement corrects us.

Third, we have a strong culture, and typical of a strong culture, it defines outcomes and appropriate attendant behavior. A culture is simply how we do what we do. So if someone starts operating in a manner that is contrary to the culture (say, having the arrows pointed in, instead of out) the culture will push back against that. When you have a strong culture, the guidance you are looking for comes from within, instead of through external rules and controls.

Fourth, we take "relational responsibility" for each other. Through the Church Council (which supports the Lead Pastor), the Lead Pastor (who supports the Area Pastors) the Area Pastors (who support the local pastors), the Local Pastors (who support the Directors), Directors (who support the group leaders) and Small Group Leaders (who support the group participants) we have a manageable “span of care” that keeps us in touch with each other, and engaged in each other’s lives. Relational responsibility involves “speaking the truth in love” to each other.

Fifth, we have policies and procedures in place as "rails to run on." But what minimalist structure we have is designed to be liberating. Great organizations free people, instead of restricting them. CTK is an example of that ugly-sounding idea from Tom Peters’ In Search of Excellence – “simultaneous loose-tight controls.” On the one hand we are tight on the things that matter; on the other hand we are loose on everything else. We have freedom, with handrails. The handrails are our "beliefs" and our "brand."

Sixth, we are responsive to issues as they arise, and we anticipate that they will arise. We subscribe to the “2% rule.” The 2% rule says that out of every 100 groups we start, two will go sideways. This is based on our actual experience. Out of the first 100 small groups we started, 2 of them went sideways; one theologically, and one relationally. Knowing the 2% rule, we face choices as a church. Do we a) invest our efforts into trying to prevent the 2% from happening through extensive reporting and meetings (in which the 2% will still happen – we’ve just burned up a lot of energy trying to stop it), or do we b) put our efforts into reaching out, but prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually for dealing swiftly with issues as they arise? At CTK we have chosen b). Instead of organizing to keep the 2% from happening, we have chosen to put our energies into reaching out. As a friend of mine likes to say, “If you use your hands to cover your butt, it doesn’t leave you any hands to do the work.”


Why do we prefer the word “support” to “accountability”? The word accountability implies an imbalance between people - that there are “good” people and “bad” people. The “bad” people need to be “held accountable” (one of the most unhealthy phrases I think I’ve ever heard) by the “good” people. But the goal is obviously to be one of the good people. How? By not appearing bad. What this system rewards is keeping up the appearances that everything is ok, so that you are on the high side of the equation. We like the word “support” better because it implies that we are fellow strugglers (on the same plane), and that there is nothing to be gained by faking each other out. Instead of starting with the premise that we are all ok but need “accountability”, we start with the premise that we are all fellow strugglers, in need of “support” so that we can grow. So we ask, “How can we support each other?” instead of “How can we hold each other accountable?” It ends up in the same intended place, but a lot quicker, because it skips the gymnastics of appearance management.


One of the questions I routinely get is, “With so many small groups and Worship Centers out there, how will you find out if people are teaching false doctrine, or straying morally?” The answer is simple: “People love to tattle.” How did Paul find out about the moral dysfunction at Corinth? It was reported to him. We don’t need to go looking for trouble for it to appear. Years ago, when we had a small group go “sideways” theologically, someone in the group placed a call to me almost immediately and let me know what was being espoused. I was able to deal directly with the error, and “cut out the cancer.”

2 comments:

Fancy Dress said...
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Dave Browning said...
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