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Special Report: A Call for Accountability

Charismatic leaders issued a strong call for ethics at the Ministries Today Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

From Staff Reports (For the full text of this article, see the March/April issue of Ministries Today.)

More than 50 charismatic leaders drew a line in the sand at an historic meeting in Orlando, Florida, in January. Their message: "It’s not about power or titles, it’s about winning the lost."

It was a virtual "who’s who" of the charismatic/ Pentecostal community at the first-ever Ministries Today Symposium, where high-profile ministers met to discuss key issues relating to leadership and ethics January 6-7.

In light of the magazine’s year-long emphasis on the fivefold ministries and senior editorial adviser Jack W. Hayford’s challenge for ethical accountability (see "Practicing What We Preach," November/ December 2003), Ministries Today’s publisher Stephen Strang felt compelled to assemble a group of leaders to address topics such as the use of titles, leadership abuse, financial integrity and ministry ethics.

Hayford moderated panel discussions on three topics: leadership issues regarding the fivefold ministries, spiritual and moral issues and questions which challenge the credibility of the larger charismatic/Pentecostal community’s witness and the future of the movement.

Besides the positive relationships forged and productive discussion, one of the immediate results of the symposium was a collection of affirmations called "The Orlando Statement," compiled and agreed upon by the group at the conclusion of the gathering.

During the first panel discussion, participants Reinhard Bonnke, Joyce Meyer, Bill Hamon, C. Peter Wagner, Kingsley Fletcher and Rod Parsley addressed the continuation of the fivefold ministries, the use of titles to identify the offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher.

None in the panel or audience disputed the legitimacy of the post-New Testament ministry of all the fivefold gifts, but some expressed concern that the power invested in titles of apostle and prophet often causes the holder to exercise authority and not service.

While a variety of opinions were expressed regarding if and when those ministering in the fivefold gifts should be granted titles, the overarching consensus of the discussion was the need to return to the work of soul-winning and shepherding that the Scriptures demand—activities from which the use of titles sometimes distracts the church.

The second panel, including Cindy Jacobs, John Bevere, Keith Butler, Steve Hill, Mark Rutland and Rick Joyner, concerned itself with the ethical crisis in the charismatic/Pentecostal community. Citing issues such as marital responsibility, "cheap concepts of restoration" and a lack of "self-moderating standards" in issues of finances, Hayford expressed his concern at the outset of the discussion.

"Like the book of Judges, the movement is increasingly moving toward everyone doing what is right in their own eyes," he said. "We’re watching the dumbing down of a movement, in many ways—dumbing down in the thoughtful pursuit of what we’re really about."

Hayford suggested that ethical issues threaten the continued viability of the movement and the willingness of many to identify with it. Although many may embrace the theological perspectives of the movement, they are reticent to be a part of what they see as the excess and shoddy ethics of many high-profile charismatic leaders, he said.

The third and final panel, including Ted Haggard, R.T. Kendall, J. Lee Grady, Francis Frangipane, Myles Munroe and Frank Reid, explored the future of the charismatic/Pentecostal movement.

The discussion largely surrounded the issue of the continued identity of the movement and the need for a unified response to the gay agenda, same-sex marriage, universalism and other issues on which there have not been strong statements made.



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