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NAE Releases Ethics Guide for Church Leaders

The National Association of Evangelicals' newly released guide is designed to help church lay leaders make wise decisions based upon biblical wisdom and ethics.

Before church boards and leadership teams can make the best decisions for the future of their churches, they first have to understand their roles, responsibilities, and purpose from a biblical perspective as their choices have serious consequences for the health and ministry of the local church. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), of which the Assemblies of God is a member, recently developed the NAE Code of Ethics for Congregations and Their Leadership Teams to equip church leaders to make wise decisions.

"Church leadership teams are most often composed of seasoned leaders who sacrificially volunteer their time to build up the local church," said Leith Anderson, NAE president. "They want to do good. This resource is an opportunity for church leadership teams to discuss, adopt, and live out the calling God has given them." 

Congregational leaders are responsible to provide for their pastors and to facilitate their work. They also have responsibilities to the congregation at large, to the family of churches to which they belong, and to the communities in which they live and worship. 

Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of Assemblies of God, said, "I am delighted to endorse and highly recommend the Code of Ethics for Congregations and Their Leadership Teams that has been developed by the National Association of Evangelicals. Our communities will only be influenced toward Christ when they see healthy churches; and the code of ethics sets the standard for how a healthy church functions."

The Code of Ethics for Congregations and Their Leadership Teams offers practical guidance in six primary areas, including admonitions to:

• Honor and support the gifts Christ gives to the churches;
• Promote the unity of Christ's Body;
• Practice accountability;
• Practice good stewardship;
• Practice hospitality; and
• Seek the welfare of the community where God has placed it.

The NAE Code of Ethics for Congregations and Their Leadership Teams complements the NAE Code of Ethics for Pastors, released in June 2012, to guide pastors as they fulfill their responsibilities to teach congregations, lead them, and care for their spiritual well-being.

Randall Bach, president of Open Bible Churches, states, "The most effective form of formal and relational accountability is that which is mutual. Just as pastors are accountable to congregations, congregations are accountable for protectively caring for their pastors and for conducting themselves according to ethical standards. Ethical standards are like curbs on a road, keeping fellow travelers on course."

A taskforce worked on the ethics document for a year before it was unanimously adopted by the NAE Board of Directors.

"The NAE Code of Ethics for Congregations and Their Leadership Teams will help church leaders make good practical decisions for the health of their church and its ministry to the community they serve," says Efraim Espinoza, director of Hispanic Relations for the Assemblies of God and a member of the document's taskforce. "It provides guidance for lay leaders to assess their community for their specific demographic characteristics in ethnicity and community needs/challenges."

"After thorough conversations, crafting and revisions, we have a statement that is sure to be a standard reference of ecclesiastical ethics for years to come," says Walter Kim, associate minister of Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts, who is also a member of the document's taskforce. "I hope that every church board takes time to consider and commit to this standard of ethics."

Other members of the document's taskforce include Ruth Clark, president of American Baptist Churches USA; Dennis Hollinger, president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; David Neff, former editor-in-chief of Christianity Today (chair); Terry Palmberg, elder chair of Wooddale Church; Marshall Shelley, editor of Leadership Journal; and Luder Whitlock, executive director of the CNL Charitable Foundation.

The Code of Ethics for Congregations and Their Leadership Teams is available for download and to sign at NAE.net/code-of-ethics-for-congregations. The Code of Ethics for Pastors is available at NAE.net/code-of-ethics-for-pastors.