The Healthy Church Staff Podcast

When Should Your Church do an "Independent" Investigation

February 14, 2024 Todd Rhoades Season 1 Episode 28
The Healthy Church Staff Podcast
When Should Your Church do an "Independent" Investigation
Show Notes Transcript

When crisis hits a church and questions about leadership integrity arise, it's time for decisive action. Can transparency and an independent investigation restore the shaken faith within a congregation? Todd Rhoades of Chemistry Staffing joins us to address the uncomfortable yet vital topic of independent investigations in church communities. His insights shed light on why many church leaders are wary of outside scrutiny and how an objective inquiry can actually safeguard the church's credibility and trustworthiness.

This episode isn't just a theoretical exercise; it's a practical guide for churches navigating the stormy waters of scandal and suspicion. We examine scenarios that may trigger the need for an independent investigation, from financial mishaps to allegations of staff misconduct. Todd emphasizes the benefits of bringing in external investigators to ensure objectivity and transparency, which are crucial in rebuilding congregational trust. It's a candid look at the steps necessary to uphold accountability and ultimately, to foster a healthier church environment.

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Speaker 1:

What do you do when everything has hit the fan at your church? We're going to talk about when your church should do an independent investigation. You're listening to the Healthy Church Staff Podcast. My name is Todd Rhodes. I'm one of the co-founders at Chemistry Staffing. I'm glad that you're listening here and you're saying, Todd, this is the Healthy Church Staff Podcast.

Speaker 1:

Why are you talking about independent investigations? That doesn't sound very healthy. It's one of the things that I hear. I've really never even heard too much about independent investigations until the past few years. I think maybe one of the first times. Maybe I'd heard it before, but one of the first times I think I heard about an independent investigation was back in the Willow Creek days when there was an independent investigation with Bill Hybles. That was very public and since then there's been a lot of. If you've watched the news it's really nothing new. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Speaker 1:

But I mean there's been a number of high-profile pastors, high-profile churches that all of a sudden, or maybe building over years, everything hit the fan and there are calls for independent investigations. I can think of four or five just in the past couple of years that I've heard of and there seems to be a clamor and really some controversy inside. When these crises happen inside the church, there seems to be a real hesitancy among church leaders to give up any authority and they feel like, hey, we can handle this ourselves. And when our integrity is questioned, everybody does just want to stand up and say, no, we've got integrity, we can do this, we can do what needs to be done here, but in some instances, and actually in a lot of cases, you can't just because the credibility of your organization, the credibility of your main leader and the credibility of your church is up for grabs and your integrity, honestly, is questioned, and the need for, and the cries for, an independent investigation happened typically when there are doubts that surface regarding the church or the staff's integrity. Here's a core concept that I really want to talk to you about today, and hopefully you're not in this. You're not in this as a leader and you're not in this situation as a church, and hopefully you never will be. But I think it's good to talk about it. It's always good to talk about these things in case someday you need to have this information and you think, oh yeah, remember listening to Todd on the Healthy Church staff podcast, talk about this. And here's the core concept the truth doesn't fear investigation. As a matter of fact, the truth encourages it.

Speaker 1:

Now there's lots of reasons that could be potential triggers for why your church might need to do an independent investigation on something, whether it's a financial issue, maybe it's a staff misconduct issue, maybe there's some operational failures that may necessitate an independent investigation a moral failure most obviously could. But the independent investigation can really bring some objectivity. It can bring some fairness and some transparency to the investigation. If an investigation needs to be taken care of, Objectivity remains key to a robust inquiry process, and that process is really what is going to retain and rebuild that congregational trust. When transparency is a priority, credibility is the outcome. So here are some benefits. If your church is going through a time where you really need to do some kind of investigation, there's a good reason to do an independent.

Speaker 1:

Let me backtrack for a second. What do I mean by an independent investigation? That means you've got somebody that's leading the investigation that doesn't have a dog in the fight. That's really what it means. An independent investigation is an independent investigation. They're independent people and they offer, they're going to offer you an unbiased perspective, and that is something. You are too close, your board is too close in many instances to have a really unbiased perspective. An external, independent investigator can come in and do that. Independent investigators can help you undercover the truth. The truth encourages investigation and then again, that's the transparency that builds credibility. An independent investigator can also give you some fresh eyes. They provide objectivity, they reinforce evidence Credibly. They don't get swayed by things. They don't try and cover up. And in the end you really do need a lot of times to reinforce the credibility. The transparency and accountability that's fostered by an independent investigator will build trust and faith among your congregation.

Speaker 1:

Now that doesn't mean that there won't be challenges. Oh, my goodness, are there gonna be challenges? First of all, just the pressure to appoint an investigation is huge. But here are some of the challenges You're giving up some control and there may be some potential discomfort. The independent investigation may uncover some really hard, uncomfortable truths that the church leadership will have no choice but to act upon, and this accountability can be really difficult. It takes some leaders with some good backbone to be able to do that. Challenges also main training trust.

Speaker 1:

If it's not carried out fairly and transparently, an independent investigation run the risks of eroding the congregation's trust in the church and its process. You need to check out and make sure that you hire a really good investigator or a very good independent person to do this. And it's also gonna be a challenge because when you do get the report back from the independent investigator, you're gonna need to act on those findings and the leadership must be prepared. You've gotta be prepared, going into it, to accept the findings and to take appropriate actions. Even if it's difficult, even if it's disruptive, you've gotta do the right thing, and avoiding action could undermine the credibility.

Speaker 1:

We're seeing this right now in what is going on at IHOP and I don't know if you followed that story or not, but a lot of that is, and this is one of the reasons I'm talking about. It is should there be an independent investigation? Should there not be an independent investigation? And then, if there is an independent investigation, is it really independent? All of those kind of things. What we've seen unpack over the past month to two months is just the incredible erosion of trust from people inside and outside of that movement. They're looking and saying man, how do we get out of this now? All right, so tomorrow this is a two-part series.

Speaker 1:

Tomorrow we're gonna continue our talk about the independent investigation and we're gonna talk about where in the world do you start? Where do you start If you're in a really bad time? How do you know what to do? What's your first step? We're gonna talk about that tomorrow. Hey, I'd love to hear your input on this. Maybe you've been a part of an investigation an internal one that went bad. Maybe you've been a part of an independent investigation that either went really swimmingly well and given the circumstances, or it was just a dumpster fire. I'd love to hear your input and your response and your thoughts. You can email me anytime. Podcastatchemistrystaffingcom. Podcastatchemistrystaffingcom. Join us again tomorrow. We're gonna talk about where to start if you're ever in the need of doing an independent investigation at your church, and I'm gonna work on my pronunciation Independent investigation. I'm gonna go and practice. I promise I'm gonna say it at least 10 times really fast, so that tomorrow I will stutter when I work. We'll see you tomorrow. Have a great day in ministry.