Should Pastors Be Required to Sign a Code of Ethics?

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Susan R's picture


The only advantage that I can see is the idea of specific expectations, taking 1 Tim 3, Titus 2, etc... and showing what that would actually look like. 

For example, what about a pastor incurring unsecured debt? What if one of their children gets involved in something immoral or criminal? How are elders, deacons, and teachers chosen? There should be something in place that provides some boundaries and guides the church in addressing these problems in a way that helps the pastor and his family, but also protects the church.

Jim's picture

Why shouldn't everyone sign a code of ethics?

Why only Pastors?

Why not Deacons?

Why not SS teachers?

Why not every church member?


A note on unsecured debt. If you have any balance on your CC you have unsecured debt.

It would take a police state to enforce the unsecured debt proviso - "The church treasurer will need to see your CC statement every month"

Call me skeptical of the value of a code of ethics.

We have doctrinal statements, church covenants (which in my view are unnecessary) and then this added on suggestion.


Susan R's picture


The requirements for attending church aren't the same as for those who lead it. I'm not thinking that a code of ethics will keep more pastors straight, but that some kind of documentation may be helpful as far as framing specific requirements, and what to do if those boundaries are crossed.

I wasn't talking about all unsecured debt, but if the elders are to be of good report, and not 'greedy', then wouldn't their credit rating and  amount of unsecured debt be part of that? At what point are pastors/deacons disqualified if they get into financial trouble? Some unsecured debt is understandable if there have been medical issues or other kinds of unforeseen circumstances, but there are times of financial difficulty that are just pure irresponsibility, so what does the church do then?  

Nothing, because they won't know about it until it's far too late. Nice work if you can get it. In many other professions/vocations, ethics accountability in one's personal life as it applies to one's job description is part of the deal, and few think that is overstepping or becoming a police state.

In any case, it is always much easier to be proactive than reactive, because when the church is in the middle of a crisis, they have already probably lost a significant degree of their perspective. Haven't we seen enough of everyone standing around flat-footed not knowing what to do? We can armchair quarterback 'other' churches in trouble all day, but have we learned anything yet about how to prevent the same in our own churches?

It is my understanding that in Ohio, churches are required by law to have governing documents, such as a Constitution and Doctrinal Statement. Or maybe it's only for churches who are categorized as 501(c)3. 


jimfrank's picture

Our church constitution refers to the list of elder qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 in reference to the pastor.   No man can live up to these standards.  Honestly, they are more than enough!