Our Code of Good Leadership Practices provides guidelines on appropriate boundaries rather than assuming that people know what the appropriate boundaries are. Through His word God directs us to live out our ministry roles with integrity, enthusiasm, compassion and patience. (2 Tim 4:2, 2 Tim 4:5, Eph 2:10), this code is an expression of these directives from the Bible.
Our church expects of those in leadership, as they exercise their ministry and in their personal lives.
It also provides a step-by-step process for loving leaders through a process when they break or damage the code.
This code is not a set of laws to be added to grace, but rather, expressions of our love towards each other and the people to whom and with whom we minister.
a. We will minister out of a relationship with God by:
- joining regularly in the life and ministry of the Church.
- studying the Scriptures in private and in groups.
- praying regularly in private and in fellowship with and for the people and ministry of the Church.
- giving of our time and finances to the work of the Church, as an expression of your gratitude to God.
b. We will serve others in the context of healthy relationships by:
- loving and caring for our families; paying attention to the effect of ministry on them.
- treating others with respect; teach and exercise authority respectfully.
- upholding confidential information; do not disclose to anyone (including spouse), any confidential information without the consent of the person providing the information. (There is an exception where there is a legal obligation or a duty of care issue.)
- being a team player; cooperating with other ministry leaders, there will be areas that overlap and someone else may have the advice that you need.
- using words that build up; do not ridicule or embarrass people.
- avoiding professionally counselling people with whom we have personal relationships.
- making alternative arrangements for pastoral ministry for any person if you begin to develop a romantic relationship with them.
c. As Christian Leaders we will:
- be accountable to our team, watch out for each other and protect each other’s integrity, e.g. practising a ‘never alone’ approach to ministry with children, young people and vulnerable adults.
- communicate with integrity, including accountable and wise use of electronic communication, commit to following our team guidelines for electronic communication.
- obey the law, other than any law that is contrary to the Scriptures.
- not take property belonging to others, including intellectual property (copyright) and knowingly making false, misleading or deceptive statements.
- not engage in bullying, emotional abuse, harassment, physical abuse, sexual abuse or spiritual abuse of any person, including your family.
- not act violently or intentionally provoke violence when engaged in civil disobedience.
- be responsible in our use of addictive substances and services (e.g. prescriptions/alcohol).
- not use any prohibited substance.
- act with sexual purity. Sexuality is a gift from God. We will express our sexuality in healthy and God directed ways. E.g. Abstain from intercourse in singleness and faithfulness in marriage. Not use pornography for sexual gratification.
- act with financial integrity.
- have in place systems for accountability and transparency in financial matters.
- not seek personal advantage or financial gain from your position, other than in wages, recognised allowances and deductions.
- disclose to the church leadership if we are or have been investigated for any criminal offences or have any knowledge of serious criminal activity.
When the code is breached – What happens when leaders do not follow this code?
(i) Occasional/minor violations
Everyone sins and is forgiven (1 John 1:8-9). It stands to reason then, that the code will be breached. When this happens in an area that is not a breach of civil or criminal law, simply cease the conduct. If this is difficult, the person should see their team leader about receiving help (e.g. counselling). In some cases it may be necessary to step a person aside from their duties whilst this takes place . Deal with such matters confidentially.
(ii) Unknown violations
Not all leaders will understand ‘unacceptable’ behaviours. Even after explaining the code some may be unaware they are exhibiting unacceptable behaviours. Leaders need to be open to correction and humble enough to modify behaviours so as not to discredit the gospel. As above, stepping a person aside their duties may be necessary.
(iii) Constant violations
There are breaches that are not a breach of civil or criminal law. Where a leader has been made aware of their behaviour and yet refuses to change:
a) the Ministry Coordinator meets the person for behaviour review meetings. Communicate required behaviour changes. (Up to 3 meetings)
b) if the behaviour continues, a small group of church leaders are to arrange a meeting to address the behaviour. Stepping aside is appropriate at this point.
c) if the behaviour/s continues beyond this meeting, then respectfully, and upholding confidentially, the person will be stood down for a set period. They will be offered help in changing their behaviour via counselling if they are willing.
NB: Written notes of all meetings to be carefully taken and a copy given to all parties.
(iv) Breaches of the law or allegations of abuse.
Allegations of abuse or serious misconduct are to be referred to your senior church leader and the police.
Disclaimer: This document has been written with due regard to Australian state legislation. This publication is not legal advice. Legal advice should be sought when responding to individual incidents. The ideas and procedures herein are based on nationally recognised good practice advice for Safe Ministry.