Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Character Crisis in the Pulpit!

We are at a crisis point in the charismatic church and the church in general!

--A pastor who has a sexual addiction robs a bank to bankroll his addiction. He is caught and serving time in prison now.

--A prominent pastor is arrested for solicitation in another town in the gay community area. He was there 'ministering to gays!"

--One minister admitted a homosexual affair. He took three months off "to seek professional and church counseling related to a recent short-term homosexual relationship."

--Multiple sex charges brought against a pastor and his staff of a large charismatic church.

--And we are rife with the divorces of high profile preachers and teachers.

--and the list could go on and on.

The problem is that we who are to be the upholders of morality are now falling prey to the very things we encourage others to resist and offer hope for.

In our meeting on 'Restoring Fallen Pastors' last Thursday in Brownwood, we all agreed that a pastor could and should be restored. Pastors should not be shot, left out in the cold, forgotten, ostracized, or put out to pasture. The concern is how does the process begin and when does it end. That depends on a lot of things. Some of them I will address in future posts.

Gal 6:1 BRETHREN, IF any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. AMP


My thoughts are:

1. God's grace and forgiveness is available immediately to the one who asks for it - period.

2. The restoration is an on going process that requires humility, repentance, and willingness to walk it out regardless of the time involved.

3. In our day of instant results and fast paced life style one needs to understand that restoration to ministry should never be fast-tracked.

4. Restoration is best served by those in relationship with the individual and should be facilitated by people that are known to him.

5. Restoration is best accomplished in a team approach.


Any thoughts? Please comment.


Lara Moore said...

Bro. David, while living in NC, I joined a small, charismatic church that had no affiliation with any other church or church group. Years later, when the pastor's secret sins were exposed, there was no support system in place. I believe that in our drive to leave behind demoninations, we lost an important support system that can generate His healing. A 'group system' should always be available to His church. One group to care for and eventually restore the pastor, one to care for the leadership, and one to care for the members. In a natural disaster, all groups are taken care of, not just a select few. The same should be with the Body of Christ.
From http://laraamoore.blogspot.com

Rob said...

We have a lot of charismatics at our church and they share similar stories from their past. Most of them will also point to a fairly common contributer to the cause. They say it is the tendency to elevate experience over biblical truth.

I'm savvy enough to know this isn't 'across the board,' but it may be a strong enough tendency to warrant more discussion.


Ken said...

I sometimes wonder if the problem is made worse because although God will forgive, people won't. That makes it difficult for a pastor or church member to confess their sin and work towards restoration. This is turn allows the sin to get a firmer grip on the person.
How many times have we heard someone say, "Well old so and so just confessed and cried because he got caught" That may well be the case but that has to be between him/her and God. We are ordered to forgive in the same manner we expect forgiveness. Praying with and for someone, loving them and being able to forgive will help on the path to restoration.

Pastor David said...

>lara- I agree with you- there are a number of injured parties that need help.

>rob- I agree with you- there is not the fear of God or obedience to His word in many pulpits today.

>ken- agree that we need a 'safe place' to confess without being lynched. Many continue to hide and struggle never getting to where they can confess; in turn finally being relieved but humiliated when caught!

Michael Collins said...

I agree with your thoughts regarding restoration. I am thankful that there are teams available to assist the minister, their family and the congregation through the serious crisis that a moral failure creates. Thanks for addressing the issues.

Mark Woodward said...

The process of moving from sexual fantasy to actually carrying out sexual sin is nothing that happens overnight. The fact that the men who you have listed here were caught is a testament to several things: 1 the mercy of God on their congregations 2. the fearful truth that those things done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops 3. the awful exposure of a level of deceptive hypocrisy in the body of Christ as a whole and the pulpit specifically that is staggering. The men caught in these sins have been functioning in all out sexual depravity for years to bring them to this point, all while brazenly presenting a pious face and leading the people of God with not even a second thought to the eternal ramifications of speaking righteousness from the pulpit while trampling the blood of Christ under foot in their private debaucheries. The time is long since past for the question of the handling of such events to be turned from one of "restoration" to one of indignation, not only at the wolves who would dare to deface the sacred duty which they have been given; but also at a system more concerned with "restorative justice" than the holiness of our Awesome God. There is no place for such men in the leadership of the body again. These scandals should burn through the halls of every seminary like wildfire and drive faculty and students alike to their knees and to their rooms of counsel, seeking the root of those ideals that places performers rather than SONS in the pulpits of America!

Pastor David said...

>Mark- thanks for the insightful comments- I too am processing many of these thoughts- especially liked your last statement-"performers rather than SONS in the pulpits of America." That is what we have become!

Anonymous said...

Bro. David.

I appreciate your dealing with this important subject. I too weep for an anemic church and pray that God will revive us with a grace that brings power in our weakness.

I also appreciate Mark's zeal for the holiness of God, and upholding a pastor's sacred duty as a shepherd of the flock of God. Truly pastors should lead the way, not only with a high moral standard, but as an example of a life empowered by the grace of God unto holiness.

However, when Nathan came to David, he did not take the kingdom from him as Samuel did from his predecessor. David was given the opportunity to confront his sin, repent, and be restored to his God and (with earthly consequences) to his kingdom.

It would seem that the issue is not the nature of the sin or the length of time, but rather the heart and it's ultimate response to being "caught" in sin. This wording in Galatians seems to indicate the very thing Mark refers to. A sin that manifests itself over a length of time until it is "discovered" or more aptly "uncovered" by the Holy Spirit.

Saul, if you remember, when he was confronted, was still more concerned with his being honored before the people, whereas David genuinely humbled himself before God. I would have to admit that true repentance such as found in Psalm 51 is rare in today's culture, but when it happens, God does restore.

You can't get much more wicked as a leader than Ahab, but when he genuinely humbled himself, God delayed judgment until his wicked son refused to repent but turned to Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron in his day of trouble denying there was a God in Israel. (1 Kings 21:27-29)

I believe that most pastors (charismatic or not, this is across the board), don't generally have any real personal accountability. Because of the pressure they feel to be "above reproach" they are afraid to admit their weaknesses to anybody else and are forced to deal with them alone (in the human sense). Couple this with the constant pressure to "succeed" in ministry, and probably a generous portion of sleep deprivation, and you have a recipe for trouble.

Because the church majors in "church growth" rather than "character growth" a pastor's personal struggles are pushed aside - swept under the rug, if you will, and not dealt with until the devil gains a foothold.

Praise God for people like Mark who have never been overcome by an area of weakness in their life....that Satan has never demanded to sift like wheat. They may not have issues from "unsaved days" that although are redeemed by the blood, need to have the grace of God actively worked into them.

But in your zeal, remember compassion. And if you do ever fall (I pray you won't), I hope there are those ready to believe in you, work with you, and restore you.