There are ripples (problems) that resonate for years after a pastor’s sin is discovered. They are not about the pastor any longer, but they are the result of his sin and how people have responded. You will find that people need help processing how to think, what to do, how to respond to the changes that happen because of a pastor’s fall. Here is a note I sent to one of our members this week in response to a visit I had with them last Sunday in our lobby. This person had decided to not serve anymore because they didn’t like the direction we are going. Here is my response to them. I hope it might help you as well.
Thanks for your note. It was a real joy to visit with you about our church and our personal responses. May I do it in bullet points? That might be easier to sort out. Feel free to dialogue on these points and make any comments you wish in response, ok?
Here we go,
1. This church is God’s church. He is in charge. He’s still Lord of heaven AND earth (that includes this little community of believers). He’s in charge of what happens here. Often we don’t like it or more importantly don’t understand his ways of doing things, but our call is to, a. trust him, b. pray for his direction and, c. let him rule the church.
2. The elders chose the pastor. They were given the responsibility to lead our body and in that role our pastor was chosen. Neither he (nor any other pastor) will be all that the body wants or needs. Some will want one thing, others another, but he is the pastor that God has given this church for this time. As Spurgeon said years ago, “If you don’t like the pastor you have then pray for him and God will change him.” The pastor is God’s problem and he answers to God for his role, his leadership and his teaching. Accountability for the pastor’s job is first to God and then to the elders. God will watch over his church and he will work in the pastor’s life as we pray for him. Our role in the body is to pray. I’ve already seen God working in our pastor. I know he wants to walk with God and know him better, but he is different and his gifts are different than what some would want. In spite of that here he is. Now what?
3. As I mentioned in #2 our primary job in response to the pastor is to pray. Pray for God to work in his heart, pray that God will give him a passion for the word, a passion for the message and love for the people. All of that can ONLY come from God and the work of HIS Spirit in his heart. We can’t make him do it, we can’t nag him into doing it…none of that will produce a work of God. Only prayer is the right response.
Some have asked, “why did God bring this pastor here?” I don’t know entirely, but could it be that part of God’s work is in his life? There is much he is doing in us as well. We have always loved to be taught the word, but for what purpose? With our former pastor it was for the teaching alone. Teaching the word was the end in and of itself. We were a bunch of spiritually fat Christians. We honestly never did anything with it. I know the word is life changing, and so there were results of course, but application was not our former pastor’s strong point.
Now about our current pastor. Could God have brought him here to work on him, on us or both? He was deeply wounded in his last church, maybe this time is for him. God loves him as much as he loves you and I. I assume he wants to redeem him and work in his life, right? But, maybe all of this is for us….to knock us about a bit and get us on our knees. We had a bit of arrogance because “we had verse by verse bible teaching” (which I dearly love by the way) and now we don’t. Is God working to bring this body to a point of dependence on God alone? I honestly don’t know or understand God’s ways here, to be sure I have asked, but I will trust him and pray. And pray I do, for our church, for our pastor, for me and my attitude.
Now to you, you are a gifted teacher. You love doing it. Your gift is from the Spirit and by using it you are doing your part in the body. When you or I refuse to use our gifts because we don’t like something about the church we are handicapping the church, making it less effective and we are disobeying God. The pastor is God’s problem (as are you and I). We do nothing to help the body grow or become what it should if we fold our hands and say, “I’m not going to use my gifts because I don’t like the pastor God gave us or the way he does his job.” It honestly sounds like you are in more trouble than the pastor, doesn’t it? I know that you have a heart for God and a passion for his transforming word, so use your gifts, serve where he places you and pray for the other members of the body that God will work in their lives. It is the body of CHRIST after all isn’t it? Is he able to make it work as he wishes? Is he able to place different members in our body where he wishes?
YES, and our response must be, “Lord, YOUR will be done, work in him and in me for YOUR glory. I don’t like the way things are going, but that’s your problem. I will pray for the church and for our pastor and will serve with the gifts you have given me.”
Honestly, the rest is God’s problem and we have to take it to him, leave it with him and serve him with joy. He is able and will bring glory to his name if we will trust him.
I know I may have left something out, but let’s start our discussion with these words and go from here, ok?