Course Summary: Clergy members and other ministry leaders are often expected to not only make all of the right decisions, but also have all of the answers. They are faced with ethical determinations in their personal lives every day, as we all are as humans. The decisions made in those ordinary moments can have long-term positive or negative consequences.

As a person charged with leading a church, a clergy member makes decisions at a level that can be far-reaching–more so than people in other professions. Ethical clergy can propel a congregation forward to do its best work. Unethical behavior, on the other hand, can have a ripple effect and seriously erode the fabric of an entire congregation.

The code of behavior for ministry leaders should be grounded in biblical truth. As clergy members are tested every day with situations that may challenge their own ethics and values, they must draw from this code of behavior. They must be ready to face life’s everyday predicaments, grounded in the mission given to them by their congregation and the community they serve.

In this 6-module, 2-hour course, we will take users through the top issues challenging today’s clergy and church leadership, and how they can navigate these ethical conundrums. Some of these issues include technology, sexualized behavior and misconduct, addiction, behavior with children and youth, narcissism, plagiarism, and more.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define ethics and how it relates to the clergy
  • Learn how a code of conduct can be helpful when challenged with ethical predicaments
  • Learn about the top ethical issues facing clergy members today: technology, sexual abuse and misconduct within the church, dual relationships, appropriate behaviors when dealing with children and youth, addiction, secrecy vs. confidentiality, narcissism and abuse of power, plagiarism, responsible use of church resources and embezzlement, accountability and supervision, the importance of personal study and faith growth
  • Identify how to formulate questions to guide behavior in challenging ethical situations
  • Recognize how to evaluate one’s own behavior and decision-making skills
  • Learn about the importance of self-care for clergy
  • Recognize the rewards for ethical behavior

Key Topics Include:

  • Module 1: Introduction. Explore the definition of ethics and how it relates to clergy, including how the decisions made by clergy can affect a congregation both positively and negatively. Learn how a code of conduct can be helpful for clergy when challenged with ethical predicaments.
  • Module 2: The Top Ethical Issues Faced By Clergy Today. Some of the top ethical issues faced by clergy today include technology, sexual abuse and misconduct, and dual relationships. This module explores these topics in-depth and includes scenarios for deeper reflection.
  • Module 3: The Top Ethical Issues Faced By Clergy Today (Continued). This module discusses more ethical conundrums facing clergy, including recognizing and practicing appropriate behaviors when dealing with children and youth. Drug, alcohol, and other addictions and how they affect clergy are explored in this module, as well as secrecy vs. confidentiality. Also, clergy will learn about the clergy-penitent privilege, mandatory reporting, and handling an abuse disclosure.
  • Module 4: The Top Ethical Issues Faced By Clergy Today (Continued). In this module, clergy will delve deeper into the topics of narcissism and abuse of power, plagiarism, embezzlement and using church resources responsibly, accountability and supervision, and the importance of personal study and faith growth.
  • Module 5: The Consequences of Unethical Behavior and Looking Forward. It is important for clergy to have the skills to evaluate their own behavior and decision-making skills. This module includes questions to help guide behavior in challenging ethical situations, as well as recognizing the important of self-care. In addition, this module examines the rewards for ethical behavior.
  • Module 6: Conclusion and Final Exam.

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