By: Tom Bandy
There are two basic ways to practice accountability in your organization or church.

The traditional, top-down way is to list all the tasks that could or should be done and then supervise every person to make sure they are accomplished in the prescribed method and timeline. This practice of accountability is time consuming and labor intensive. It is also dangerous in a time when managerial leadership is sparse or poorly trained, because too many mistakes can go unobserved.

The emerging, bottom-up way is to define means and ends policies, or proscriptions for action, and then monitor those boundaries rigorously. This practice frees people for rapidly responsive, creative action; but it also frees leaders from micro-management. “Means” policies include clear consensus around DNA, but also executive limitations on action that protect safety, promote learning, and coordinate work. “Ends” policies are clearly measurable results that are reasonably anticipated if the organization is doing its job.

Most (if not all) denominational polities are actually a blend of the two. The founding fathers and mothers usually start out with more bottom-up, boundary thinking. Their descendants allow themselves to be drawn into micro-management, creating by-laws and task lists, until bureaucracy becomes burdensome and politically correct thinking becomes intolerant. Maverick congregational leaders are often more true to the innovative roots of the denomination, than the denominational leaders themselves.