I didn’t know what else to title this blog. Integrity is a crucial part. But so is humility and maybe a dozen more words. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the recent scandal involving Bill Hybels, the former founding pastor, of the Willow Creek church. Hybels has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women. He resigned in the spring. Last Wednesday night the elders and key staff of Willow Creek church resigned for not responding well to the allegations. You can search online to get the bigger sad, disheartening story and videos.
The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) we hosted last week was started and hosted by Hybels. However, since his resignation in April, he is no longer a part of this event. Fortunately, the current leaders of the GLS owned up to their own slow and inadequate response at first and have made the right efforts to correct things. The GLS is entering a new and even better season. I think the 2018 GLS was the best yet.
I used our GLS hosting opportunity to offer a lunch-time teaching on how we at Pantano create a safe environment free of harassment or abuse at any level: physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual. You can watch the teaching and Q&A here. Here’s part of what our policy states: Pantano Christian Church is committed to providing a work environment that is free of discrimination. In keeping with that commitment, Pantano maintains a strict policy prohibiting unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment. The policy goes on to spell out what behaviors among our staff and leaders are not acceptable. We require all paid staff to sign a document agreeing to these policies. We also do an orientation and a yearly reminder of what we value in this.
Further, I remind all staff and now declare to our entire church, that if you feel like you are being harassed or abused in any way by any staff or identified leader we urge, encourage and even beg you first to confront the person. That’s the biblical way (Matthew 18:15-16). If there is no change, repentance or resolve, we want you to report that to the appropriate leader(s) UNTIL you are heard!
I also talked to the leaders attending the GLS about how they must follow some policies and principles to protect themselves from or in case of false allegations. For example, for our married leaders and staff here are a few of our policies and practices:
- Do not conduct private meals or meetings alone with persons of the opposite sex.
- Do not drive, travel or visit alone with a person of the opposite sex.
- Do not share your marriage issues or have discussions of sexual problems with a member of the opposite sex alone.
- Be careful in how and with whom you use physical touch.
Finally, we have developed a governance or leadership system designed to protect the church. One of the great dangers that has prompted the #MeToo movement and was a factor in the “scandal” at Willow Creek Church is that leaders are tempted to abuse their power. The Elders of Pantano Christian hire, evaluate and fire me, the Lead Pastor. The Elders do staff 360 reviews of me, and they get the report. Without me, they meet with the Executive Team leaders and their teams regularly to ensure that Pantano is a safe and healthy church moving toward its vision and mission. I am never the chairman to ensure the elders set the agenda for all our meetings. These and many other things are the policies and systems we’ve created to protect people and our church and create a healthy safe environment.
I have known and believed all my life that in the end, my leadership doesn’t rest on how skilled I am, how good my leadership is or how much I know. My leadership and your trust rest on my authentic relationship with Jesus that results in strong integrity based on humility. I will do all I can to protect my integrity and embrace humility. I appreciate your prayers for all our staff to serve and lead in ways that respect and honor all people.