This summer, the Healthy Culture Task Force began a review of existing policies and procedures to receive, investigate and respond to allegations of misconduct.
The Foursquare Church has detailed information available in several resources, including:
- The Handbook of Operations for Foursquare Churches
- Child and Youth Protection Manual
- Administrative Guide to Services
- Minister’s Code of Ethics
For many years, these resources have offered definition and guidance for our organizational response to claims of a sexual, financial or ethical nature. However, in recent years concerns over abuses of other forms of power have rightfully gained increasing attention within the Christian church worldwide.
In response, the Heathy Culture Task Force has curated materials from several organizations specializing in policy development and organizational assessment to identify best practices in this area, and has initiated contact with several consulting firms with expertise in abuse prevention and response. These firms are developing proposals to audit Foursquare’s existing policy documents and are also soliciting recommendations on additional procedures and roles needed to respond to all forms of misconduct within the denomination effectively.
Through this due diligence, four essential milestones have been identified:
- Provide clear definitions of newly emerging terms of ministerial misconduct and an explanation of the organization’s process to investigate and adjudicate claims.
- Have a clearly articulated theological framework to address how ministers will be held accountable or exonerated in accordance with Scripture.
- Review and refine the organization’s protocols to ensure safe reporting environments for reporters and for the accused.
- Integrate additional procedures into our polity so that all layers of leadership experience increased accountability.
Effective intervention is based on policies that clearly state the boundaries of ministerial conduct—what is and what is not appropriate behavior for Foursquare staff and ministers in their relationships with congregants, clients, employees, students and other staff members. Moreover, these policies must ensure fair procedures for investigating allegations, adjudicating formal complaints and exonerating, coaching or disciplining ministerial abusers. It is also important that participants in this process, including staff, ethics panelists, Safeguarding Team members, and investigators reflect the diverse representation of age, gender and cultural demographics that comprise our movement.
A Christian organization like The Foursquare Church must begin with an ecclesiological view of minister accountability that is informed by Scripture. While industry professionals will curate best practices for preventing, identifying and responding to incidents of misconduct, the implementation of these practices in the church environment must align with principles clearly outlined in God’s Word.
To this end, the Healthy Culture Task Force has engaged the Foursquare Doctrine Committee, comprised of recognized elders and theologians in our movement, to develop a theological framework to inform our protocols for the investigation and response to allegations of misconduct. This theological framework will lay a helpful foundation to process revisions that align with our polity and ecclesiology as a church.
The Healthy Culture Task Force has established a target to complete the four due diligence milestones and will select a third-party consultant by November 30, 2022, so that a detailed assessment of Foursquare’s policies and procedures, along with the charter, composition and qualifications of necessary teams or committees (e.g., a Safeguarding Team) may be conducted to identify solutions that honor accountability, victim protection and ministry integrity.