There is a very common problem a church faces when they discover their pastor has fallen….fear of what will happen to the church. Because of this fear the church does the worst thing possible…..they hide what has happened hoping no one will discover the truth.
After the first sin a very similar thing happened for Adam and Eve. Here is a portion of the text that describes our universal response to sin,
Genesis 3: 6-10- “When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves. When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God. God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.””
When the sin of a pastor is known to leadership fear is our first emotion. We begin to think, to discuss, “What will happen to the church if they know this? How can we do ‘damage control’? They don’t really need to know all of this, do they?”
And when fear drives our response we hide what has happened with phrases like, “Our pastor has taken a leave of absence, he is having family issues and needed some time to work them out.” or “The pastor has had an inappropriate relationship with another woman so we asked him to step out of the pulpit for a while.” I’ve heard a dozen other ways this is described, but the goal is always to hide from the church family what has really happened.
All hiding the sin does is confuse the church and raise even more questions! When we fear what might happen, like Adam and Eve, we hide. That is the worst choice we can make! The church family needs to know the truth, they need to hear, “Our pastor has had an affair and we have dismissed him so he can rebuild his family and life, but the real pastor of our church, Jesus Christ, is still our leader.”
That will send shock and surprise among the church, but then it’s done. Everyone knows. Nothing to hide, now let’s rebuild, pray for the pastor, our church and what God wants us to do next. Don’t let fear make you hide the truth. Trust God. He will take care of the church if only we would trust him.