The Healthy Church Staff Podcast

How Your Church Should Start an "Independent" Investigation

February 15, 2024 Todd Rhoades Season 1 Episode 29
The Healthy Church Staff Podcast
How Your Church Should Start an "Independent" Investigation
Show Notes Transcript

Could the path to restoring trust and integrity in your church be clearer than ever before? Our latest Healthy Church Staff podcast episode is a must-listen, concluding our vital discussion on the ins and outs of independent investigations within church walls. As I, Todd Rhoades, guide you through the remaining eight indispensable steps, we emphasize the importance of navigating these sensitive situations with precision and care. This episode is a candid exploration of the journey from selecting the right external investigator to acting on their findings, designed to help your church leadership and congregation emerge stronger and more united.

Listeners, prepare to gain insights that are both practical and profound. We discuss not only the recognition of when an investigation is necessary but also how to carry it through with the highest standards of integrity. You'll learn about the necessity of transparent communication and the weight of responsibility that comes with handling the conclusions of an independent investigation. This conversation is an essential resource for any church grappling with internal strife, offering guidance that leads to resolution, healing, and a renewed sense of commitment to your shared values and mission. Join me as we explore the complexities of maintaining trust within the church community and take crucial steps toward a healthier future for all involved.

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Speaker 1:

Hi there, my name is Todd Rhodes, I'm one of the co-founders over at chemistrystaffingcom and you are listening to the Healthy Church Staff podcast. Thank you so much for being here today. We're in a two-part series. Yesterday we started. If you didn't hear it, you can go back and catch part one of our short mini series on independent investigations in your church Now.

Speaker 1:

Yesterday we talked about why you might need to do an independent investigation. We talked about some of the benefits and challenges. The benefits being an independent investigation Somebody that doesn't have a dog in your fight when your church is going through the turmoil, let's say, somebody that doesn't have a dog in the fight that can really bring some benefits, like reducing biases, undercovering truth that you might not be able to get to internally, giving a set of fresh eyes, and it also, from a congregation standpoint, really will help you to reinforce the credibility of your leadership team in the event of just everything falling to pieces in your church. Some of the challenges, though we talked about some potential discomfort. We talked about how you maintain trust and the need that, when you get the report back from the independent investigator, that you need to act on the findings and you need to communicate that. So today we're going to finish out this series by eight quick steps here. Eight quick, easy, no problem steps to do when your church needs to start an investigation and you decide that it's really wise to do an independent investigation. So let's look at these eight steps together, shall we?

Speaker 1:

Step number one you, first of all. You just need to recognize the need. The first step is always acknowledging when there is a necessity for an independent investigation, and that usually exists when doubts exist regarding the church's or that staff's integrity. You can always try and do this internally. But I'm telling you, in this day and age, trying to do things internally, if you've got a leader that's fallen, that's decided to take the high road and in many ways do the right thing, maybe there won't be a need for an independent investigation, but a lot of times there is. And first step, step one is you got to recognize the need. Number two you need to select an investigator, and you have to be really careful here. You need to choose an external investigator that has absolutely no ties with your church, because that's going to ensure impartiality. They have to have relevant qualifications, they have to have experience in doing these kind of things, and there are a few, even recommendations, that I can give. I don't know these people personally, but I know that they do independent investigations and, from what I've heard, I have a very good reputation to doing it. They've got the qualifications and the experience and they will help you to ensure impartiality. So step two select an investigator.

Speaker 1:

Step three you got to define the scope of the investigation. You need to clearly determine the goals. You have to determine the allegations, the time period, the resources. You have to get all of your ducks in a row with all the information you have to gather. You need to give the independent investigator access to and they need to be able to examine all of that information and you can't hide anything. If, as soon as you hide things, that's going to get you in trouble. So step three is to find the scope. Step four gather the information. Like we just said, the investigator is going to thoroughly gather all the documentation. It's going to be talking to people conducting interviews. It's going to be uncomfortable, but the relevant parties need to have conversations with this investigator and you need to give access.

Speaker 1:

Step five Analyze and report. The investigator is going to analyze all of this information that they're gathering, all the interviews and people that they're talking to and they're going to try to establish the facts and compile them into a report detailing what they've done, their methodology, their factual findings and their conclusions, and they're going to give you a report in step five, and it's your job to analyze the report. And then, step six you need to act on it. Act on the recommendations. Church leadership needs to accept the findings. After all, this was an independent investigation from someone that's knowledgeable, somebody that doesn't have a dog in a fight and somebody that's going to hopefully find the truth. Church leadership, you have to agree, going into it, that you're going to accept the findings and when you actually get the report, guess what? You have to accept the findings and you have to act on any of those recommendations or required actions provided in the report. You will lose credibility if you hire an independent investigator and then ignore the recommendations that are given. Or if you do an independent investigation and you don't release the report or the details of the report. It'll almost be like you didn't do an investigation. So you need to act on it.

Speaker 1:

Number seven, and this is important you need to inform your stakeholders. You need to appropriately communicate the investigation results and all the actions and all the recommendations to the people in your congregation, to your staff, to other stakeholders. And again, this is to maintain transparency. It's to rebuild trust and to keep your integrity. Leadership boards many times blow it in all of these steps, honestly, because this is tough stuff. Most of the churches and most of the leadership boards that have gone, that are going through this or will go through this in the future this is the first time they've done it, so you need to get some outside counsel.

Speaker 1:

This is too important. It's not just getting off script here a little bit, but it's not just your churches. That is at stake in times of crisis like this, it's the spiritual lives of the people in your church. For a second, who cares if your church takes a budget cut? The harm here is the people that don't know Jesus, that may never know Jesus because you're not dealing with this correctly, or the people that have been stakeholders in your congregation and, because you blow this, are going to turn their back on, not only on your church, but, more importantly, to their spiritual any spiritual aspect of their lives. That's really what's at stake here. So you need to make sure you do this right and you really have to make sure that when you get that report, that you appropriately communicate it and don't hold back. You need to communicate it properly. And then step eight and this is the last one, it's really important you need to implement the changes. You need to learn the lessons. You need to do the autopsy on what happened and make sure that it never happens again. Use the lessons that you learned through the investigation to implement those positive changes the changes in personnel, the changes in policies, the changes in processes, the changes that you need to make in your church so that you can begin to get back that trust, begin to get back that credibility, not only in your church but in your community, so that your church can continue to prosper and grow into the future.

Speaker 1:

Alright, being a heavy topic here the last couple of days. Tomorrow, hopefully, we'll be talking about something a little bit different. Actually, I'm just looking at the schedule tomorrow and tomorrow. This isn't. Maybe I should have done this before the independent investigation. Tomorrow we're going to talk about oh no, I need to fire somebody. So that'll be an interesting discussion. Make sure you join us again tomorrow. We're here every Monday through Friday, a short five to eight minute, I would say, podcast directly targeting church staff and church leadership. Hope you enjoy it. If you have any comments, you can always reach out to me. Maybe you've got a suggestion for something you'd like me to talk about here on the Healthy Church Past staff podcast. You can reach me anytime. Just send me an email at podcast At chemistrystaffingcom. Thanks so much. Hope you have a great day and we'll see you back here tomorrow on the Healthy Church Staff podcast.