Accountability is about ownership.
Gauging your level or others level of ministry accountability should focus on determining the level of ownership of your vision.
To determine your level of ownership or the “buy-in” for yourself or team members, ask the following questions:
1. In one sentence, what is the vision of our ministry?
Either you have this down or you don’t. Not a lot of gray area here. If you cannot communicate this for yourself or to others, don’t bother with the remaining questions - work on this one.
2. What specific elements of the vision are meaningful to you?
Having head knowledge of the vision is one thing, being able to explain personal understanding and motivation is the next. Motivation matters.
3. How would your life change if our ministry were to realize our vision?
If you are living a life that is dedicated to the vision, surely your life would change significantly if that vision were achieved - right?
4. Who have you shared the vision with?
Followers of Jesus share the Gospel - it’s what followers of Jesus do. Owners of vision share the vision - it’s what owners do.
5. What specific actions have you taken to advance the vision in the last month?
It is one thing to think happy thoughts about your vision. What are you doing about it?
6. What challenges or barriers exist that may get in the way of the vision?
If you own the vision, you should know the things that could kill it.
7. How much money have you given to advance the vision?
Show me your budget and I’ll show you your priorities.
What other questions help you clarify your ownership of your vision? Let me know!
When faced with a ministry challenge, I’ve heard several well-intentioned church members, board members, and ministry staff leaders make the following statement:
“Things would be better if we just held people more accountable.”
This is often said by well-intentioned, but frustrated individuals. Here’s the thing - they are 100% correct. They are also 100% wrong in their thinking.
Accountability is misunderstood. Most people think accountability means consequences for poor performance. That’s not accountability, that’s punishment. Accountability is a character trait. Accountability is a willingness to own your thoughts, actions, and results - no matter the consequences. A great one-word definition for accountability is ownership.
Most of us have a tendency to look around for things to blame or change based on our situation. If someone is out of work, they tend to blame the poor economy, greedy CEOs, corrupt politicians, or the evils of capitalism. If a ministry has plateaued or is in decline, blame is often placed on cultural change, over-scheduled families, lack of volunteers, or lack of funds.
People who struggle with the accountability character trait tend to blame others. People who excel or who want to grow in accountability know that at the end of the day, the only accountability that exists is self-accountability. Accountable people own their own thinking, actions, and results.
Ministry accountability is not about consequences for behavior, choices, or results - it’s about ownership. As someone involved in ministry, you must hold yourself accountable for your own thoughts, actions, and results. As a leader in ministry, you must help others do the same for themselves.
There is only one surefire way to help yourself and others develop accountability: Own it.
- Owners are accountable.
- Owners hold others accountable.
At a recent conference Pastor Andy Stanley challenged me and others in attendance with a powerful question:
What is the faith of the next generation worth?
Pastor Stanley’s advice for church leaders is that we should be a “by all means possible“ leader. If something is a barrier to our culture’s hearing of the Gospel, we should be willing to give it up.
Some common examples of potential barriers could include
- specific ministry practices or traditions
- worship style
- the importance of the entire Bible vs. The Gospel
- decor in church
- stressing social issues
- preaching vs teaching
- denominational loyalty
Perhaps nothing in the above list is mutually exclusive to the clear and effective teaching of The Gospel. Maybe everything is. That’s the challenge for Christian leaders today.
In a post-Christian culture, the toughest question Christian leaders face is this:
What do we give up for the sake of The Gospel?
If your answer is nothing, there is a good chance that the changing pace of our culture will make you increasingly irrelevant.
If your answer is everything, I like your spirit, but I wonder how many people will follow you.
What are you willing to give up for the faith of others?
What is your local chapter of Christ’s church willing to make less so The Gospel can be made more in our culture?
Click the image below for a simple personal exercise to determine your take on the BY ALL MEANS POSSIBLE Leadership challenge.
You can also use the exercise with your team, staff, or board. I’ve included 4 discussion questions to get you started.