My favorite new show Stephen Fry in America may be uncreatively titled (what else would we expect from the BBC?!), but it provides a unique look at many aspects of on-the-ground American culture that I’d never otherwise notice. (Legit voo-dooists, “body farms,” etc.) Among the many questions it forces upon us: What did ever happen to those underground bunkers used to store active ready-to-launch missiles during the Cold War? (Safe bet you haven’t thought of that question yourself in a while!) Apparently one of them was purchased a few decades ago – for only $40,000! – by some hippies who turned it into their home and then started a profitable business helping other hippies do the same. (Yes, you really should watch this show.)
Anyhow, while walking Stephen through the missile storage hanger, the cameraman drew attention to a sign that read: No Lone Zone – Two-Man Policy Mandatory. Hippie-missile-man explained that due to the sensitive, powerful, and potentially destructive nature of the room’s “contents” and the ever-present possibility of foul play, no one was allowed to be alone with this missile many times more powerful than anything we or anyone else has fired. Some things just can’t be trusted to a solitary human being.
And forgive me if this is a stretch, but I promise it was honestly my first thought. Ministry should be a “no lone zone” too. On top of the fact that serving together is a biblical model, it just makes sense that no one person be given too much unchecked authority over something so powerful as the gospel, something so admittedly potentially lethal as “religion.”
Now I realize that many (probably most) ministry situations don’t come with the inherent flexibility to just go and hire a team. But having a formal team probably doesn’t have as much to do with it as sometimes think. The issue is whether you have others with you keeping you honest as you go about your work. And not just someone who likes to whine, but a legit peer who loves you and has earned your respect. Who do you have like that who has the permission and the courage to tell you when your decisions are bad, your sermons are sub-biblical, and your character is slipping?
Many lives have been destroyed by loose cannon Christian leaders who enjoy too much power without the proper checks and balances. I know I don’t want that to be my story, so for me the “No Lone Zone” two-man policy is, indeed, mandatory.