Focus on the Family Promotes `Shepherd's Covenant'

Jan 25, 2003 02:12 PM EST

Concerned that denominations and local churches aren't holding pastors to high enough moral standards, Focus on the Family is courting 50,000 pastors to adopt a "Shepherd's Covenant" for greater accountability.

"Everywhere we look, we see (pastors with) marriage problems, infidelity, pornography," said H.B. London, vice president of ministry outreach and pastoral ministry. "Nearly every one of them has unresolved issues at home, little time alone with the Lord and little accountability. .. This is about building a hedge of protection around your ministry and your family."

Pastors who sign the five-point covenant and wear the shepherd's crook lapel pin as a sign of their pledge would first and foremost be availing themselves of peer scrutiny. They would promise to have "colleagues in our lives who will ask us hard questions and allow us to do the same with them."

Holding pastors accountable to vows taken during ordination has traditionally been the domain of local churches or denominations that confer ordained standing on clergy. But because the Gallup Poll shows clergy approval at an all-time low, London said, the need for fresh accountability standards seems clear.

"We're going to plead for denominations to use this covenant with their pastors," London said. "We don't care who gets the credit."

In pledging also to maintain good relationships, be vigilant, and have a "shepherd's heart" and an "intimate" relationship with God, pastors would theoretically make their covenant with denominational officials or with lay leaders in a local parish.

Since announcing its program via e-mail earlier this month (January), Focus on the Family is reporting interest from about 1,500 pastors. To enroll 50,000 participants, Focus on the Family is prepared to spend $84,000 on program administration, London said.

Focus on the Family is a nondenominational, evangelical organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo.

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald