A few months ago I had to quickly re-arrange our worship service and so had one of my deacons combine my class with his. He took the opportunity to pass out some sheets of paper and ask everyone to write whatever they wanted about the church. Most of them were positive or constructively critical. But two of them were vitriolic, nasty, and simply wrong. What caught me by surprise was that these two nasty notes came from people who shook my hand every week, smiled at me every week, played with my infant son, and were just generally nice normal people. So why the change? In a word: accountablity. The anonymous nature of the informal survey guaranteed there wouldn’t be called to account for their words. They wouldn’t be asked to work to fix the problems they saw, they wouldn’t be told to tone down the vitriol and they wouldn’t have to deal with everyone knowing the way they had attacked people within their church.
I think that’s what we’re dealing with here with the watchdoggies. The reason why they feel so free to slander and lambaste is because there is no accountability. First, there’s the lack of human contact with the people they’re actually attacking. Then there’s a total disconnect with their online activities from either a larger body of Christians, or with their jobs. Think about it for a second. First you’ve got Ingrid who’s daddy owns her place of employment, I doubt her job is ever in jeopardy much less from any kind of controversy she could cause, and, I believe I remember reading from her site that the church she attends is a house church made up mostly of her family (and if that’s incorrect I’ll happily correct it). What are the chances that that kind of fellowship would be calling anyone to heel until the situation became untenable? Ken Silva is largely as immune to any sort of accountability. His church is roughly the size of a Sunday school class, which brings as little accountability as Ingrid’s situation.
And, ultimately, it is these types of situations that have cut the ecclesiastical brake lines that are supposed to exist within a church. There’s no chance of the principles of confrontation found in Matthew 18 to play out. There’s no way elders are going to step in and enforce Biblical models of behavior.
So what do seatbelts and accountability have in common? They’re both restraining devices.