New beginnings are exciting, but often hard. They are especially hard when a church family is considering a new pastor after the last one fell in sin. The church is fearful and still untrusting. The new pastor is hopeful, but he has much to deal with in this broken and hurting church.
The church thinks a new man will dull the pain and scars of the last pastor, but he can’t. No man can. The scars and wounds, the lack of trust and forgiveness needed must all be done over time. Healing will take a while. It’s a work of God, not of a new pastor.
Can the new pastor survive the healing process? Does he know what he’s dealing with? Usually he doesn’t last long and honestly, most of the time has no idea what he’s facing. Soon he’s gone and the church is still in pain.
If you are part of a church dealing with a fallen pastor or a pastor coming into a broken church here are some things you both need to know. Let me list them as they come to my mind. There are more, but here are a few:
1. The church is hurting. The church and the new pastor need to acknowledge that. Don’t try to pretend it’s not true. Deal with it honestly and deal with it biblically.
2. The church’s trust has been broken. Most of the people in the church, although unaware of it, will not trust the new pastor. The last one, the one they loved, failed them. How can they trust another pastor? Trust is something that will have to be earned. The new pastor needs to know it’s not given easily in a broken church, he will have to work on this intentionally.
3. Forgiveness is needed. The new pastor will need to talk about what forgiveness is and what the process must be for a church to heal. Forgiveness is a must if the church and the new pastor are to survive.
4. Trust in another area has been dealt a blow as well. Wives, who always trusted their husbands in the past, are now more likely to lose trust in their own husbands for a period of time. If the pastor, a “godly man”, could fall then how can I trust my husband? That question will be in the air even if never spoken. A wise pastor coming into a broken church will soon teach a series on marriage. It will be vital for the church and for the couples who were struggling before all of this happened.
5. Those who might have been thinking about an affair in their marriages before now have “permission”. If the pastor did it….then… And some, in spite of the price paid by the pastor who fell in sin, will consider it permission for them to do the same thing. Some marriages will fail because of the fall of the pastor. The next pastor needs to be keenly aware of this being a temptation to a few in the church.
6. And last, for this post….although I will deal with this again, the next pastor must be overly careful about his own marriage and how he handles himself. He must be overly careful. He must make sure he never counsels a woman in the church alone. He must never meet with a woman alone. He might be completely trustworthy and would never repeat the sin of the former pastor, but because of the pain and hurt in the church family people will be watching VERY closely. He has to be especially careful in his actions to help the church heal. The next pastor may think this unfair. He would never repeat the same sin, but that’s not the point. His role is one of healer, restorer, shepherd and in that role he has to guard the sheep…even from their own suspicions.
I have many more in my thoughts as I write, but this post is already a little long. I’ll revisit this topic again soon. I hope you all have a great new year and I pray you and your church heal, forgive and grow in the grace of Jesus Christ.