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Home > 2013 > February Online Only > Firehouse Accountability

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One of the core values of the church I pastor is that we as a staff are all accountable for each other. If one of us falls, we are not going to kick them out of the club, staff or church. We are going to stay with each other until we clear the danger. If a staff member falls, they don't automatically lose their job or position. They get the chance to be helped back up on their feet. We believe our mistakes can be just as big "God moments" as the successes in our life.

Accountability, in my life, means I can share the worst parts of my character with my staff and fellow leaders, and in turn, they can share theirs with me. No one gets left behind. No one on this team lives under the cloud of their failure forever.

Tested by fire

Over the years, we have had this principle tested a few times. Once, a young staff member got into some sin that was hurtful to his reputation and to a relationship. Several people in the church found out about it and demanded that he be fired. We all stood together and said, "No way! If he goes, we all go." We met with the disgruntled church members and clearly communicated to them in no uncertain terms that they would lose all of the leaders if they ran this guy off. Our worship leader, support staff, all our youth pastors and every other staff member said they would all quit; they would not be part of a church that needed perfect leaders.

And you know what? Most backed off. A few people left, but who cares. They obviously don't understand the power of love, friendship, forgiveness, and loyalty. The moral mistake had happened and he had acknowledged it and repented. He worked to heal the ones he had hurt, and that chapter in his life was over.

That happened so long ago that we never even think about it, but the young man that had a momentary failure has become a trusted key leader here now. Only God can make all things work for his glory. And so he does. At some point, I just think that the church has got to be a church for the leaders, too. They need protection and healing as much as anyone else in the congregation. At times, they need even more.

This kind of accountability doesn't appeal to some. I occasionally get emails about how this is a wrong way to live or build a church team. Maybe. I guess we will all find out over our lives because everything gets tested. So far, however, it has been a pretty messy way to live but at the same time it gives us all a very secure feeling that we can be open with each other. People can walk away from our team or our church because that's their choice. However, if they choose to stay and "do life" with us, to engage in ministry and community with us, then we are all accountable for each other. We are accountable to get through our lives and callings until we all get to go home.

No excuses, no giving up, no blame, and no certainly no whining. That's no way to behave in a fire.

Michael Cheshire is pastor of The Journey Church in Conifer, Colorado and author of How to Knock Over a 7-11 and Other Ministry Training (2012) and Why We Eat Our Own (2013)

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Michael Cheshire is the senior pastor of The Journey Community Church in Conifer, Colorado.

Posted: February 25, 2013

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Displaying 3–7 of 43 comments

Roy Yanke

February 27, 2013  9:10am

This is a powerful paradigm shift that most churches and beleievers are not comfortable with. I heartily agree with the approach. It would be another way for the church to " heal" its wounded, instead of shooting them. Our ministry of restoration is built around this model of grace. www.pirministries.org

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James

February 26, 2013  4:27pm

100% agree! I think if I would have been a part of a team like this I may very well still be in ministry today. I didn't even have a public failure and yet I still grew tired of the back biting and venom that came against me as a church leader. As a church leader I was forced into this fake life that everyone could look at as a model of perfection. No matter how unrealistic it was. People needed me to be the super Christian. One day I realized that I wasn't and I quit. I have fallen back in love with God and his grace since then and articles like this make me think there may just be a place for me in ministry again some day.

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Ron S

February 26, 2013  4:14pm

Gary, I think you are missing the point here. There is a massive difference between running someone off and someone leaving because of their failure to apply the gospel. I think being a pastor may give me better insight here, but I can tell you that all pastors understand that when someone decides to leave our church we must let them go. We can't cling to these people as if they were ours alone. As leaders we are called to stand up for the one being pushed around and choose not to let the nay sayers and detractors bother us.

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Experience

February 26, 2013  4:11pm

There is a massive difference in Christians running people away who have failed; and members choosing to leave because they didn't get there way. Maybe my view is different because I am a pastor. I personally applaud this article and the heart I feel behind it.

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Gary

February 26, 2013  3:25pm

"We all stood together and said, "No way! If he goes, we all go." "A few people left, but who cares" You would go to the ends of the earth to save "Staff" but a lowly member? "Who cares!"

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