"Any organization in this day and age that does not create systems of accountability will eventually come to ruin," says one Megachurch Pastor.
Jeff Vines is the pastor of One&All Church in San Dimas, California, was mentored by the late Ravi Zacharias. Vines also spoke at the International Conference on Missions (ICOM) in late November about accountability in ministry. There were 4,000 missionaries, ministers, and church leaders in attendance.
After hearing about the sexual misconduct by the late apologist, the conference leaders, along with many others were forced to reassess what they thought they knew about Zacharias and about effective ministry structures.
Vines was close enough to Zacharias that he was one of a few hundred people to attend his funeral in March of 2020. Hearing about the sexual allegations, Vines went through the five stages of grief over the idea that his mentor had hidden this painful secret from so many.
"I thought, No way, it’s a big lie. Someone’s trying to get him," Vines says to Christianity Today. "Ravi loved me like no one ever loved me before. He took me under his wing."
After the law firm Miller & Martin confirmed the sexual allegations were true, Vines went through the final stages of grief, including anger and acceptance.
During the conference Vines talked about megachurch pastors who are encouraged to pursue celebrity status and allowed to isolate themselves from accountability. He went back to the biblical story of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, and noticed the sins of Joab, the military captain who carried out David’s immoral and unjust orders without question.
He ended by encouraging all Christian organizations to hold their leaders accountable and not make the same mistake that RZIM had.
"Do you think your pastor, your elder, your missionary is above accountability? Then you’ve taken the first step towards his and your and a victim’s demise."
The conference took place in Richmond, Virginia, and offered workshops solely based on accountability. Christian Missionary Fellowship International (CMFI) attended the conference, and Executive Director Kip Lines made a video statement.
"When it comes to preventing abuse and holding leadership accountable in our ministries so that we don’t protect abusers so that we don’t sweep it under the rug and hide it, so that we don’t make decisions that are merely based on what makes our organizations and ministries look better, we need to do better."