I received a comment from a reader that we need to talk about. He said that the topic of repentance is rarely discussed when talking about the sin of a pastor.
I would agree with his observation.
Repentance is rarely discussed because in most cases, when a pastor sins, we don’t get the opportunity to deal with or see repentance. The pastor is dismissed and the church tries to survive the tragedy. We rarely get to resolve these sins in a biblical way. Most people in the church where the pastor sinned will either leave or simply try to “move on”. Although repentance for the fallen pastor is part of his healing we may not see it and seldom have a chance to encourage it. Frankly I know that it often takes years for repentance to happen in a pastor’s life if it happens at all.
But there is more to this process if we are to heal properly. There are other things that should happen, but will rarely be done in this kind of sin. The church not only needs to see and be part of repentance in the pastor’s life, but there is reconciliation, restoration and recovery needed. Few of these, although all needed by the church, will actually happen. So the church limps away from the sin of a pastor and gradually tries to heal.
Are there things left undone? Yes. Should we pursue repentance, reconciliation, restoration and recovery for the fallen pastor? Yes, but honestly the wounded body cannot do much of this right away. It takes time and the next task for the church body, after the pastor leaves, is trying to survive what has happened!
After the pastor is gone how do we biblically pursue repentance? Reconciliation? Restoration and recovery? From my experience, as I have watched our church go through this, I find that we still have unfinished business. The wounds of a pastor’s sin and the results in the body make these important issues difficult to accomplish. Do we need them? YES! Will we achieve them? Not often.
So what do we do knowing that these are needed for the fallen pastor and for the church? Pray, forgive, heal and trust God for the day when the final chapter of the story will be a pastor who has repented, is reconciled to the church family, restored to fellowship and a church recovered from the wounds of this sin. It will be a day when the fallen pastor can attend his former church and be welcomed with smiles and hugs. There is much yet to do isn’t there?