An LA Times article about a First African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor (who according to the article has committed a substantive number of illegitimate and possibly illegal actions) has me wondering what it is about faith-centered (church) hierarchies that makes it so difficult to both recruit, select, monitor and retain "fully honest and loyal" employees.
Of course, I am not singularly thinking about the leader profiled in this specific article, but rather I am thinking about pastors from a number of denominations throughout the country and the world. I acknowledge that faith-centered nonprofits are not the only place where these challenges occur. But there are differences between faith-centered and non-faith centered organizations that may help explain why faith-centered organizations may experience these travails more often.
For sure, where boards are comprised of volunteers, with authority, there is the possibility that oversight of the overseers is deeper and wider both in knowledge and experience ensuring sound policy and evaluation. Also, in faith-centered nonprofits, it is not uncommon that what rises those with authority over pastors is not their management, planning and evaluation strengths but their example as individuals who have lived their faith and loyalty really well. And, training in human resource management or development is not noramally required from or provided to those who serve.
But the one area that is more of a puzzlement and challenge that doesn't explain the susceptibility of faith-centered organizations to incidences of pastors gone awry, is what moves all these folks to their positions in the first place: core values. Like the Scouts or Colleges, and certainly even more so with faith-centered groups, my expectations is that members will hold their leaders accountable to the group's core values and personal standards of integrity, which should keep pastors from running amok.