New policy established Oct. 15, 2020 – voted on and approved by the Cornerstone board of elders.
Note: This policy addresses general complaints and concerns a Cornerstone member might have. For cases of suspected dishonesty, misconduct or fraud by a Cornerstone leader or church member, see the Whistleblower Policy. For claims of sexual abuse or harassment, see the “Love Listens” Policy.
This policy rests on a key commitment: Cornerstone is committed to providing an environment in which people can speak freely. The elders/pastors strive to be good listeners, not defensive, judgmental, or dismissive in response to a member sharing his or her view. Also, this policy offers different options for communicating a complaint or concern. The hope is that if a member is uncomfortable with one channel of communication, a different channel may prove more workable. Throughout the process, confidentiality and care for people remain the priority.
This policy applies to diverse complaints and concerns focusing on Cornerstone or one or more of its leaders. These concerns could include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Concern about a teaching or point of theology
- Disagreement with a church decision or practice
- Concern about a leader’s character or behavior
- A personal grievance of any kind
Cornerstone offers three options for communicating a complaint or concern.
- Talk directly to the pastor or leader. This is the preferred option, in keeping with Matthew 18:15. Realistically, however, some members may feel intimidated approaching a pastor with a criticism or complaint—hence the following additional options.
- Talk to another pastor. In the case where a member has a complaint against a pastor but is uncomfortable communicating directly to that pastor, the member can contact another pastor in the church to communicate the complaint.
- Talk to a designated Advocate. Cornerstone will maintain a team of Advocates who are available to hear complaints and concerns. The Advocates must be approachable, empathetic and discreet men and women available to listen to concerns members may have regarding the church or one of its pastors. A member uncomfortable approaching a pastor with a complaint or concern can arrange to meet with one of the Advocates. (Note: The Advocates also serve as the contact point for complaints of sexual impropriety or harassment—see the “Love Listens” Policy.)
Meeting with an Advocate
The Advocate will assure the member that his or her concerns will remain confidential, with these exceptions:
- As mandated by law
- To prevent a clear and immediate danger to any person
- In the context of a civil, criminal or disciplinary action arising from the meeting with the Listener where the Listener is a defendant
- For the purpose of supervision or consultation
The goal of meeting with an Advocate is to help resolve the member’s concerns. Following this meeting the member can choose one of four options:
- No further action. The member may meet with the Advocate for the purpose of prayer and counsel and thereby settle the concern. If the member sees no need for further action, then confidentiality is promised. However, the Advocate may think that the member should pursue additional steps. In this case, the Advocate can ask the member to meet with a mutually agreed-upon third person for further discussion of the concern. If the member declines or if, after meeting with the third party, chooses not to take additional steps, then confidentiality will remain in force, with the exceptions listed above.
- Talk with the pastor or leader in question. After meeting with the Advocate, the member may choose to meet directly with the pastor to pursue resolution or reconciliation. The Advocate would offer to be present at such a meeting, and the meeting location would be the member’s choice. The expectation is that the pastor would respond with empathy and humility at such a meeting. If the meeting fails to resolve the concern, then the matter would be brought before a mutually agreed upon third party or before the elders of the church.
- Talk with another pastor. After meeting with the Advocate, the member may choose to talk with another pastor in the church to seek help in resolving the concern. The Advocate would offer to be present at such a meeting.
- Extend permission to use information in confidence. After meeting with the Advocate, the member may choose to allow the Advocate to share the member’s concerns with the leader in question or with another leader in the church, without revealing the member’s identity.