Bible Answer

Pastor Accountability

How should a pastor ensure he is held accountable within the church? Can you suggest some good practices for a pastor to follow in seeking accountability?

Ultimately, a pastor is accountable to the Lord (as are all believers), but earthly accountability is also essential to preserving godly leadership.

A pastor (and all church leadership) should be held accountable by three principle means: a plurality of leadership, regular transparent communication and carefully established boundaries.

As Paul directs Titus and Timothy, Church leadership should consist of a plurality of servant-leaders. The plurality serves three principle purposes: it diversifies gifting within leadership, it encourages members of the Body to seek opportunities to serve in leadership (i.e., 1Tim 3:1), and it militates against corruption and pride among those who assume authority. Shared responsibility for God’s people minimizes the potential for one man to inflate his pride and abuse his position or those under his charge.

Secondly, a pastor must engage in regular, transparent communication with other leaders or trusted counselors. These conversations, conducted in an atmosphere of trust and agape love, give opportunity for a pastor to confess his sin to a brother and receive honest feedback concerning his behaviors and decisions.

To be effective, these meetings cannot be optional or “as needed;” they must be regular opportunities that include an expectation that personal confession will take place in keeping with 1John 1:8.

Finally, pastors must exercise self-discipline by establishing personal boundaries that protect against even the appearance of impropriety. For example, personal boundaries should include never meeting alone (or riding in a car, etc.) with a woman other than a wife; never obtaining unmonitored access to ministry funds, etc. While these stipulations cannot by themselves prevent sin, they do offer a degree of protection against personal temptation and false accusations.