National Association of Christian Ministers
Ethical Protocol for Responding to Allegations Against Associated Ministers
Note: Nothing in this policy is intended as a means to resolve matters over which God has already appointed governmental authorities to rule.
This protocol is a template for responding to all allegations against our members.
The NACM is a national organization that has grown even beyond national borders to an international level. For this reason, it follows that there will be people both within and without the organization who have different perspectives on how to govern situations such as allegations. It also follows that there will be cultural dynamics and differences which result in interpretations of events that are quite different perceptions between two parties. For this reason, we provide a standard protocol for dealing with allegations.
The NACM sees the necessity to uphold these values and expectations among its membership.
Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals. (1Co 15:33 ESV).
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you. (1Co 5:9-13 ESV).
Nevertheless, all of the above must be well balanced with the love, forgiveness, and grace of God.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say? This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.]] (Joh 8:3-11 ESV).
Then Peter came up and said to him, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? (Mat 18:21 ESV).
Balanced Concern for Both Parties
In any case where offenses occur, two or more parties are involved:
1) A victim and an offender
a. a case where the offender was intentional
b. a case where the offender was unintentional
1. a case where the offender is unaware that they offended
2. a case where the offender is aware and repentant
3. a case where the offender was unintentional and the offended was hypersensitive; therefore the offender does not feel at fault
4) A victim and a victim with both parties claiming mistreatment against each other
5) A supposed victim who is bringing false accusations against a supposed offender
As demonstrated by the many angles of offenses mentioned above, there are many different reasons why offenses occur. Some of them are unintentional, others are intentional, and others are untruthfully malicious.
Unintentional offenses often happen because of cultural differences. For example the norm of kissing people on the cheek as a greeting.
Intentional offenses occur because of evil intentions. For example, making sexual remarks toward a member of the opposite sex as an invitation to fornication.
Untruthfully malicious offenses are those which are not as they appear. In such cases the offended is really not a victim but a liar. For example, in Genesis 39, Joseph (a minister of God) was invited to adultery with another man’s wife. When he refused and ran from the situation, the woman accused him of rape and he was put in prison.
The NACM is concerned with truth. Our belief is that wrongfully punishing someone is just as wrong as failing to punish someone who needs it. Therefore, the organization approaches allegations with great care and sensitivity to both parties.
Introduction to Procedure
a. Nothing in this protocol should replace the necessity to take responsibility by the parties involved. For example the responsibility to: seek necessary medical attention, or contacting local authorities, police, magistrates or judges, or to overrule local law, or to ignore good common sense. These are only guidelines for the sake of assisting leaders to make responsible decisions when handling sensitive circumstances of allegations.
For example: let’s say that an individual has been accused of rape and the proposed victim has contacted leadership. In this type of situation the law has been broken and someone may be physically, as well as emotionally hurt. Therefore, common sense should be to ignore anything written herein until first the proper authorities have been notified and medical treatment has been provided.
Nothing in this policy is intended as a means to resolve matters over which God has appointed government to rule.
(1) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
(2) Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
(3) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
(4) for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
(5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
(6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.
(7) Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
In other words, we will not do the work of a magistrate, judge, prosecutor, etc. God has already ordained the authorities over such matters and it is not our role to usurp their God given responsibilities.
b. The NACM has a unique spiritual relationship with its members. They are independent ministers called by God, and recognized as such by our organization. We believe that it is God who ordains them and who inevitably hold them accountable for their actions. Their relationship with our organization is entirely voluntary, and they are independent in their actions and ministries. Ministers who have chosen to fellowship with our association have voluntarily subjected themselves to be held spiritually accountable by us. For spiritual reasons, many do this for the sake of showing a reverence to God in their submission to an authority other than themselves. For physical reasons many do this for sake of showing themselves publicly and willingly accountable to an authority other than themselves.
The rationale is this, ministers serve as physical points of reference to God in the earth. In like manner, the NACM is a ministry unto ministers. We do not claim to be God nor do we claim ministers to be God, however we do claim that we are the body of Christ and we believe this order is honoring to His body. Therefore it follows that individuals who uphold these values desire to be honorable. For this reason, such individuals are considered in good standing as members.
Yet, our organization and its leaders are firmly convinced that we hold no authority over anyone who does not freely give it to us. For we are all servants of the King, and co laborers for Christ. It follows that a person who is likely guilty of unethical actions has chosen to rebel against God, possibly the laws of our land, and this would mean that they are not interested in submitting to our authority either.
With this understanding in mind, we will now use Matthew chapter 18 as our protocol for dealing with allegations against our members.
Mat 18:15-17 ESV
(15). If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
(16). But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
(17). If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Step 1: In the circumstances where a person feels that a minister has offended them, in accordance with Luke 17 their first course of action should be to confront individual personally.
Step 2: In the event that the offended has been confronted and refuses to corporate, then the offended party should get one or two wise friends to return to the offender to announce again their offense.
Step 3: Should the offender still refuse to cooperate, the offended should make contact with the NACM administration to file complaint and to provide contact to the witnesses. From here, formal information will be gathered regarding the events (including interviews with witnesses) and the accused minister will be called to answer for the accusations.
-If the minister does not respond, they will be placed on suspension until we hear from them again. If they respond with a defense, we will call a meeting between the two parties.
-If after the formal meeting, resolve still cannot be found, but the minister wishes still to cooperate with our organization, they will be subjectively assigned to an accountability partner. During a specified time, the accountability partner will partner with him or her to determine steps of progress in accordance with the uniqueness of the situation.
-If they at any time become uncooperative, they are subject to immediate suspension, and or revocation of their membership at the discretion of the leadership overseeing the situation with approval by NACM administration.
Our goal is to protect victims, demonstrate grace, and uphold truth, because we believe such is honoring to God. Should a complaint arise needing to be filed, it may be submitted to: help@nacministers