As I’ve made my way through my many experiences of church life I’ve discovered that many church-goers are “conspiracy theorists.” When an announcement is made about a hiring or firing (although church’s rarely say the word “fire”), or the church board explains some matter of policy, vision or strategy I’ve found that people will often conclude, “there’s more going on than they’re telling us.” These conspiracy theories used to bug me, until I realized that in large part unhealthy church cultures have actually produced people’s suspicions. Of course congregants can and do take their suspicions a bit far, but I think it’s fair to say that church culture often creates “conspiracy theorists” because church culture often avoids transparency.
How many times have I heard people tell me a story about the painful discovery of hidden motives in their church leaders, the wounds of deceptive public communication (telling the people of a church one thing while doing another), and the frustration of asking a church leader an honest question and not getting a straight answer. So as I think about church health, it seems to me that transparency is pretty important. It’s hard to be transparent because it puts everything out in the open, but every church needs transparency in its checks and balances of leadership, its finances and how they’re spent, its decision-making process, its capacity to hear criticism and take it seriously, and its ability to confess mistakes and openly seek to rectify those mistakes. Wouldn’t that kind of church be a great place to pursue the Great Commission? Tell me what you think.