Saturday, November 3, 2018
Hey Fletch … I read the “Hey Fletch” column about a policy for handling accusations against a pastor. At the end you said, “I would add to these a policy statement on when an external investigator should be used. Several churches have attempted internal investigations of sexual misconduct, only to find that their work was flawed.” Could you expand on that?
DRF—There are many allegations that a church can handle on their own. Others are of such a nature that eternal help is required. Consider that many churches use an external CPA firm to do their financial audit. They like the independence of the CPA and the standards of auditing that are used. That same independence is needed on some types of allegations against a pastor.
The BBC reported: “Church leaders were reportedly told four years ago that Mr. Hybels was having an affair with one woman and was accused of harassment by others. An internal investigation cleared him of wrongdoing.”
The article went on to say: “In their statement, church elders said investigations had been ‘flawed’ and that their trust in Willow Creek’s founder had ‘clouded our judgement.’ ‘We, as a board, know Willow needs and deserves a fresh start, and the entire board will step down to create room for a new board,’ it said.”
It is difficult to investigate the alleged misconduct of a beloved pastor. It is next to impossible to impartially investigate a beloved and founding senior pastor. The results of a biased investigation can be catastrophic.