Our Complaints Policy and Form
Lighthouse Church recognises that now and again incidents of inappropriate behaviour occur within the Church and we have procedures in place for dealing with complaints.
This page is for those who wish to complain or who may face a complaint. It is also for those who may be asked to deal with a complaint locally and informally.
The aim of the procedure is to avoid the trivialising of serious complaints AND to prevent trivial matters being treated as a crisis. The aim is to resolve problems, between individuals if possible, while retaining the option of discipline and investigation for serious matters.
The Church seeks to enable healing and reconciliation to take place, and each of us also needs to accept responsibility for our own acts and omissions.
The procedures are for everyone and anyone. We are committed to equality and diversity in all aspects of life… there are no barriers when people seek fairness, openness, honesty and justice in their dealings with those who are part of Lighthouse Church.
There are two important and relevant Scriptures that apply:
Matthew 18:15-18: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
“But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’
“And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
1 Timothy 5:19-21 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.”
- Has there been a conflict or disagreement?
- Was a “sin” committed or was it simply a disagreement, offense or difference of opinion?
- Where a complaint appears to be unrelated to a person’s standing in the Church and is essentially a private matter between the parties, the complaint may not be referred any further.
- If a sin was committed, what was it, by whom was it committed, when and against whom?
- Is it a serious sin or a minor issue that can be forgiven and dealt with without the need for escalation or discipline? A serious sin involves breaking civil or criminal laws, or a serious and ongoing moral sin by an elder or lifegroup leader, for which there is sufficient evidence and witnesses.
- Criminal acts will always be reported to the Police.
- Has the person aggrieved approached the offender alone and tried to resolve the issue in the first instance? If they have involved others or spread gossip and divisiveness, this may also need to be addressed in the process.
- Can this issue be resolved simply, without involving others, or does it need to be escalated?
- If it is not a sin, or is not an issue that requires the elders’ disciplinary input, appropriate counselling and support should be given to the best of the Church’s ability (often involving the Church’s members as a body, and the Lifegroup structures in place). Resources are not limitless, and the Church is not always equipped for every crisis or for serious psychological or medical interventions, but they will do their best, and refer to others where necessary.
- If it is a sin, but is not considered a serious offence or disciplinary matter for the elders’ attention, then counselling, comfort, and reconciliation advice will be given to the best of the Church’s ability.
- More serious complaints will be handled through the following formal procedure:
- If the matter is considered to be serious, the Church elders will be informed and will seek to address the matter – all actions and discussions being recorded in writing and kept confidentially on file for seven years, and available to those involved if they request these details.
- If the matter cannot be resolved in this way, a meeting will be set up with 2 Church elders and the person making the complaint.
- The person complained against (the respondent) will normally also be seen and a statement taken.
- Either party may be accompanied at such meetings, and both are offered support from those in the Church who know them.
- The elders will usually defer any action if a police investigation or employment disciplinary inquiry is proceeding.
- Reconciliation may involve no more than an admission of fault or an acceptance by both parties that they have genuine and honest differences or that they have interpreted facts differently. Where reconciliation is not achieved the elders will have to consider what action to take. If the facts do not merit treating the matter as a serious complaint, the elders may take a number of other steps, including ruling on points in dispute between the parties, issuing advice to one or both parties or giving directions about how the parties should conduct their relationship in the Church context. If the complaint affects the life of the local Church, the elders may direct that its decision be announced in the Church.
- If the elders cannot resolve the issue, they may invite the participation and arbitration of Rob McFarlane and/or his delegates from River Church St Neots and the Harvest Network of Churches to help to resolve the matter.
- A written report will be prepared by the elders showing the complaint, the decisions and actions taken, the conclusions and the resolution status of the complaint and this will be kept on file for at least 7 years.
- What discipline may result from such procedures?
- The most serious is to order that a minister shall be dismissed. Office holders may be deprived of their office and members may be deprived of their membership.
- The elders can also impose a lesser penalty such as a reprimand or can decide that the fact that the charge has been established is a sufficient penalty in the circumstances.
- Appeals – There are provisions for appeals for the decisions and discipline imposed and each will be dealt with on a case by case basis.
Our aim in this process is always reconciliation and restoration. To make and keep peace, to show God’s love and restoration, and to help people to overcome sin and to gain victory in their lives through Christ.
Please complete this form for complaints