Monday, January 8, 2018

A Code of Ministerial Ethics

Pastors must operate by a Code of Ministerial Ethics. Doubtless elders will disagree with some of the particulars but we must have a code we live by—written or otherwise—that define how we conduct ourselves.  If it were fully written down it would be extensive; however, let me give you a few examples of a code that I try to live by to embrace integrity in the ministry.

* When I leave a church, I leave a church.  It is unfair to the next pastor for me to maintain extensive contact with my former parishioners. I am no longer their shepherd and I sever the ties.  This may include changing my Facebook list as situations warrant.  This may seem rude but, unless years have passed, I am overstepping my bounds to keep connections in the church. 
* I don't try to steal another shepherd's flock.  I am seeking lost sinners to save in order to grow a church numerically.  I don't encourage "church hopping."  A possible exception to this is if a Church of God person left for another Christian faith group holding contrary doctrine.  In this case I would have far less trouble asking for a parishioner to "come home."  
* If a person has a pastor I won't visit him in the hospital unless a) I know the person or b) a parishioner of mine asks me to visit a relative.  In that case, I will make a cameo appearance and conclude the matter.  I don't step on another pastor's territory.
* If I am ordained minister attending a church I have no spiritual authority equal to or over the pastor.  Jesus Christ didn't place me there as pastor, elder and bishop so I have no claim to his pulpit.  As Christians we are equals in the Lord but I am not his equal in the local congregation.  I serve at his pleasure (if at all).  If he asks me to preach I do so.  If he doesn't ask me to preach I submit to his authority without a grumble.  It isn't my call.
* If I am preaching at the pleasure of another pastor from another church group I preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, not something divisive.  I expect Southern Baptist doctrine in a Southern Baptist Church as much as I expect Church of God doctrine in a Church of God church.  Either preach what all can affirm or refuse the invitation.  I preached multiple Sunday mornings in a Presbyterian Church a few years ago.  I referenced John Knox.  I quoted from the Heidelberg Catechism.  I preached the truth (I can't lie and preach before God what I don't believe) but I didn't bring up divisions between us.  They placed trust in me and when I ascended their pulpit I didn't betray that trust. 

This is a random sampling of my Code.  We pastors may disagree with a point or nuance here or there but my conscience must be clear before God.