In a recent article, George Bullard writes: “Richard Nixon did not break into the Watergate office building. Joe Paterno did not sexually abuse boys. Yet to the best of our knowledge both were involved in a cover up. Often it is the cover up of bad things—Can we still use the actual word sin?—that gets everyone in the tar pit dirty and stuck.
“Congregations are often involved in cover ups that inhibit their ability to soar with faith toward a fruitful future whereby they might be considered a FaithSoaring Church. While the cover ups within congregations can be about illegal and immoral activities, they can also be about less dramatic but equally as debilitating activities.
“Here are a few things congregations tend to cover up. First, they cover up mediocrity. Increasingly younger generations want high-quality programs, ministries and activities that address their real needs in real time. Congregations, on the other hand, often say their programs, ministries and activities were good enough for them and should be for the next generation.
“Second, they cover up a lack of spiritual maturity. Congregations equate regular participation with spiritual growth. Classes, courses, seminars and small groups attended equate with discipleship progress.
“Third, they cover up the absence of a clear, passionate vision for the future. They do so by coming up with a motto or theme for the programmatic emphases of their congregation that seeks to push the congregation into the future rather than allowing God to pull the congregation into the future.
“Fourth, they cover up a lack of organizational processes and skills. It is frequently said that congregations would go bankrupt if they had to make a profit because they are run so poorly. While that is a little harsh, it may not be too far from the truth.
“Fifth, they cover up a lack of expertise in leading and managing transition and change. Too few lay and clergy leaders actually know how to lead a congregation—a voluntary, member-based association—through transition and change. To cover up their lack of expertise they either ‘bulldoze the process or they spiritualize it.
“And yes, unfortunately as some congregations and denominations have taught us, they also cover up illegal and immoral acts, and even perpetuate the culture that breeds them.
“The true measure of a pastor, staff minister or lay leader is what happens in the congregation when they are no longer there. What was covered up during a certain period? What will we realize five years after you are gone? What are you doing to create a positive, sustainable future?”