National Association of Evangelicals Releases "Code of Ethics for Pastors"

Earlier this week, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) released the “Code of Ethics for Pastors.” This document was developed over the past 18 months by a task force that included pastors, ethicists, editors and denominational leaders, including our own President Bill Hamel. After several drafts, on March 8, 2012 the NAE Board of Directors unanimously adopted the “Code of Ethics for Pastors.” Please see a copy of the document in English and in Spanish. (If you are interested in who has signed the Code. If you are interested in signing the Code.)

Luder Whitlock, chair of the task force, was grateful to Leith Anderson, NAE President, and the Board for this important statement: “Thanks to the leadership of Leith Anderson, the board of the NAE has prepared a long overdue Code of Ethics for Pastors. This succinct statement provides guidance for pastors who desire to honor the Lord by their example as well as by what they confess and preach. We expect it will soon become indispensable as a reference for pastoral ethics.”

For Anderson, long-time pastor who recently retired, this is an important document for pastors. He encourages discussion and adoption. Anderson’s ultimate desire is that pastors will live by these standards, not in a legalistic manner but in dependent and joyful reliance on the Holy Spirit, so that their (our!) lives would be lived “above reproach” and that they (we!) would live in a “manner worth of the gospel of Christ.”

This is every pastor's opportunity to know, commit and tell others about a personal and professional standard of biblical pastoral ethics. I invite every pastor and every church board to put this code of ethics on the agenda for an upcoming meeting. Discuss. Adopt. Live these standards.

I include below the major themes and issues addressed in the “Code of Ethics for Pastors” (please read the whole document, cf. the link above, where this is delineated further).

Code of Ethics for Pastors

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. (2 Corinthians 6:3)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27)

All who are called by God to the ministry of the gospel solemnly commit to a life of joyful obedience and selfless service in order to glorify God and enrich his people. Therefore, a minister will:

Pursue Integrity

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. (1 Chronicles 29:17)

          • in personal character.
          • in personal care.
          • in preaching and teaching.

Be Trustworthy

It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)

          • in leadership.
          • with information.
          • with resources.

Seek Purity

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

          • in maintaining sexual purity.
          • in spiritual formation.
          • in theology.
          • in professional practice.

Embrace Accountability

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3)

          • in finances.
          • in ministry responsibilities.
          • in a denomination or a ministry organization.

Facilitate Fairness

Believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. . Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)

          • with staff.
          • with parishioners.
          • with the community.
          • with a prior congregation.

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