By Sam S. Rainer III
Most scholars and experts claim transparency is necessary for good leadership. Many books on leadership have sections and chapters devoted to the issue of transparency. Unless you work for an organization like the CIA, then transparency is often among the top characteristics requested of leaders.
Of course, even organizations built on the foundation of secrecy have gotten into trouble for a lack of transparency.
Transparency is a healthy leadership characteristic. But why? In the context of a local church, what does a transparent pastor encourage, as opposed to one who is not?
1) Transparency encourages generosity. When your church knows how the money is spent, then givers are inclined to be more generous. Good stewardship does not mean the church has to be austere. But good stewards are typically transparent.
2) Transparency encourages failure. Obviously, leaders want to avoid failure as much as possible. And failure due to sin is always wrong. However, if your team never fails, then it means no one is doing anything. When you are transparent, and your team is transparent with you, then you build a culture where it’s okay to fail. Attempting great things means having a few failures along the way. Transparent pastors give their staff and ministry leaders room to fail, which means more attempts at great things.
3) Transparency encourages levity. When you can be yourself, you laugh more. When everyone in a ministry is transparent about who they are, a culture of levity is created. A ministry team that laughs together will often do more for the gospel. Besides, it’s awkward being the one person laughing in a room full of empty stares. So laugh more together.
4) Transparency encourages accountability. Secrecy breeds a culture of distrust. Openness creates a culture of accountability. True transparency inevitably leads to accountability. Transparent church leaders gravitate towards tighter systems of accountability. Those who suppress truth typically want to stretch truth.
Transparent pastors are better shepherds, and their transparency builds health into the DNA of the church. There are times to protect individual people with confidentiality. The general culture of the church, however, should be one of transparency, not secrecy.
Sam S. Rainer III serves as president of Rainer Research (rainerresearch.com), a firm dedicated to providing answers for better church health. He also is the senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN. He writes, speaks, and consults on church health issues. You can connect with Sam at @samrainer or at his blog,samrainer.wordpress.com.