Not long ago, I was paging through my copy of Voice magazine. The issue theme was “measuring church maturity,” and I wanted to see what the issue’s writers had to say on the topic. For whatever reason, church maturity didn’t suggest the idea of “ethics” to my mind. So I was surprised to see Ken Bickel’s article calling for renewed emphasis on pastoral ethics (posted here yesterday), and even more surprised to find two pages devoted to a two-part ethical standard for IFCA members.
I am not an IFCA member, and—believe it nor not—they haven’t hired me to recruit for them! But I have a lot of respect for these guys. I offer the ethical standard below as an example of the idea of a standard of ethics—an idea that more fundamentalist organizations should seriously consider, and an idea more fundamentalist pastors should seriously consider as well (present company included).
Reprinted with permission from Voice Nov/Dec 2010.
IFCA International Standard of Ethics for Churches
The following standards are recommended in an effort to create a professional understanding within IFCA International as we endeavor to preserve the dignity, maintain the discipline, and promote the integrity of our churches. Endeavoring to uphold the Constitution and By-Laws of our church and the IFCA Doctrinal Statement, and recognizing Scripture as our final authority, we purpose that our manner of life will be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).
- I will endeavor to practice personal and family worship, training my children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and seeking the salvation of my family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances.
- I will endeavor, unless providentially hindered, to faithfully attend gatherings for worship, prayer, study, and fellowship, and will use my spiritual gifts for the common good.
- I will endeavor to strive by God’s grace and power to live as Christ in the world; and denying ungodliness and worldly lusts I will seek to fulfill my calling by leading a holy life and being salt and light.
- I will endeavor to abide by the standards of sexual purity, ethical integrity, and spiritual fidelity as taught in the Bible.
- I will endeavor that if, in the providence of God, I am led from this church, I will with the spirit of grace diligently seek to unite with another church where I can continue to carry out the spirit and principles of God’s Word.
CONCERNING OUR CONGREGATION
- We will endeavor through the power of the Holy Spirit to watch over one another in brotherly love, remembering one another in prayer, helping one another in sickness and distress, cultivating Christian compassion and courtesy, believing that the pursuit of peace with others and personal holiness accompany true faith in Christ.
- We will endeavor to be slow to take offense, eager to seek the reconciliation Christ commands, and will work to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- We will endeavor to rejoice at each other’s happiness and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other’s burdens and sorrows.
- We will endeavor to faithfully participate in the ordinances of our church. We will both submit to the church’s discipline upon ourselves and lovingly assume our responsibility to participate in the discipline of other members, as taught in Scripture.
- We will endeavor to allow the Holy Spirit to put away our bitterness, wrath, anger, quarreling, and slander; being kind to one another, in tenderheartedness forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us.
- We will use the IFCA Doctrinal Statement and the Constitution of our church as our governing standards and the Scriptures as our final authority.
CONCERNING OUR PASTOR(S)
- We will endeavor to love our pastor and his family, regularly praying for them.
- We will endeavor to support our pastor’s ministry by encouraging him and offering to share the burdens of his life and ministry.
- We will endeavor to serve in the ministries of this church alongside our pastor, being eager to respond to his Scriptural leadership.
- We will endeavor, when we have a disagreement with our pastor, to do so with a spirit of grace and peace, discussing the issue privately with him, always respecting his Biblical office.
CONCERNING OUR FINANCES
- We will endeavor to contribute cheerfully and regularly to this church for its general ministry expenses, the evangelism of the lost, the relief of the poor, the cause of spiritual growth and revival, and the spread of the Gospel throughout all nations.
- We will endeavor to generously and creatively provide for the financial and material welfare of our pastor(s) and any other staff we may call.
- We will endeavor as a church to be ethical regarding business standards of financial accountability and above reproach in accordance with current legal practices and requirements.
- We will endeavor to designate in our corporate dissolution clause ministries of like-minded faith and doctrine.
CONCERNING OUR FELLOWSHIP
We will cooperate with the personnel of IFCA International leadership and of the Regional in which we serve, and offer regular support in order that our common service in the kingdom of God might be more effective. Furthermore, we will use our influence to affirm and edify the fellowship of this church with the Regional and with the organization of IFCA International.
IFCA International Standard of Ethics for Pastors
The following standards are recommended in an effort to create a professional understanding within IFCA International and to preserve the dignity, maintain the discipline, and promote the integrity of our calling—the ministry of Jesus Christ.
- I will endeavor to pray regularly, to read, study and meditate upon God’s Word and to maintain extended times of contemplation in pursuit of personal purity.
- I will plan time to be with my family, realizing my special relationship to them and their position as important members of my congregation.
- I will try to keep myself emotionally fit, keeping in control of my feelings and growing in my understanding of them.
- I will strive to grow through comprehensive reading and through participation in professional educational opportunities.
- I will seek to conduct myself consistently with my calling and commitment as a servant of God.
- I will give full service to my congregation and will accept added responsibilities only if they do not interfere with the overall effectiveness of my ministry in the congregation.
- I will treat all confidential matters as a sacred trust.
- I will responsibly exercise the freedom of the pulpit, speaking the truth of God’s Word with conviction in love; I will acknowledge any extensive use of material prepared by someone else.
- I will be honest in my stewardship of money, paying bills promptly, asking no personal favors or discounts on the basis of my professional status.
- I will seek to have a cheerful spirit and refrain from complaining even in times of financial pressure, because I will trust the Lord to meet my needs in His time.
- I will give offerings as a good steward and example to the church.
- I will seek to regard all persons in the congregation with equal love and concern and undertake to minister impartially to their needs and refrain from behavior that will be divisive.
- I will exercise confidence in the church’s leadership, assisting in their training and mobilizing their creativity.
- I will seek to lead the church in a positive direction to achieve the goals we have mutually agreed upon. I will remain open to constructive criticism and to suggestions intended to strengthen our common ministry.
- I will humbly admit my mistakes Of judgment and seek forgiveness when I have sinned against others in the congregation. I will also extend forgiveness to those in the congregation who have wronged me or my family.
- I will seek to deal fairly and honestly with the church I am presently serving, even within the possible process of candidating for another ministry.
- I will resign from the church if my doctrinal position changes from that of the church.
- I will not perform services in the area of responsibility of my colleagues in the Christian ministry except upon their request and/or consent.
- I will, upon my departure, sever my pastoral relations with the congregation, recognizing that all pastoral functions should henceforth rightfully be conducted by my successor. I will seek to honor courtesy agreements made with fellow pastors.
- I will, upon retirement or withdrawal from the ministry, refrain from engaging in pastoral functions within our church fellowship unless requested by the pastor.
- I will seek to maintain supportive and caring relationships with my colleagues in the ministry.
I will cooperate with the personnel of IFCA International leadership and of the Regional in which I serve, and offer regular support in order that our common service in the kingdom of God might be more effective. Furthermore, I will use my influence to affirm and edify the fellowship of this church with the Regional and with the organization of IFCA International.