Fear and hiding


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.

4 responses to “Fear and hiding

  1. I just recently found out that my pastor got involved with another woman. I’m a leader in the church and I need some advise on how to confront the situation without causing any damage to the congregation.

  2. Jose, I would be glad to help. What questions can I address first?

  3. I recently discovered, after 40 years that a pastor in my church who I’ve known all my life is actually my biological father.
    The ministers /elders of the church have emotionally set me into accepting their ‘hiding’ me or the ‘situation’ to protect my father from any backlash, then tell me I’m being good for “waiting on the Lord and being of good courage”.
    My father ignores me or I have to pretend that me and him are old pals at church. The hurt this causes is indescribable. I’ve been made to feel worthless as if I don’t count, it seems that if I were to die a spiritual or physical death, it would not matter to any of them because I am not as important as my father .
    I am devastated, I feel betrayed not just by my bio parents but by the pastoral leaders and church as a whole. My heart hurts. How can anyone love Christ and do this to a person? It makes me wonder how much they love Christ. My non Christian friends say “This is why I don’t go to church. Same old thing it’ll never change”. I can’t debate with them when I feel they speak truth.
    Any comforting words will do

  4. Cara, Oh, my, I am so sorry! I have never been surprised by the comments I receive, but I am by yours. Your situation is so sad and wrong! I’m sure you feel an indignation and anger about his actions and the leaders response. How can this be the church? Well, dear one, it isn’t. It’s religion at its worst! So sad. This man, your “father”, should not be in ministry at all! Shame on the leadership for allowing this to continue and for hiding it! But…and I say that in transition…but God knows. He knows what they have done and how it has hurt you. You ask, “How can anyone love Christ and do this to a person?” My answer- they can’t! They might actually be “saved” and ultimately in heaven, but there is no love of Christ in the life of a person who lives this way. Shame on them all!

    But you asked for comforting words. May I comfort you with this- in spite of the sins of this man and your mother you are here, you have found Christ and you can change the days ahead by how you live. You do know your name means “grace” don’t you? Do you know what that means? It means giving what the other person doesn’t deserve. It’s what God gave us. You can live out the love of God in your life and extend grace in spite of what has happened. You are here for a purpose, for a reason to serve and honor God. Don’t let the sins of your parents make you bitter, angry and walk away from God. Your real Father, God, loves you dearly and will never betray you or lie to you. You can use your life for the glory of God and be a witness of the grace God has given. You can change the future even if you can’t change the past. It also means forgiving…giving something your parent’s don’t deserve…and letting go of the pain and anger that could destroy you as well. It means living out the grace of God (Luke 6:27-38). Love those who mistreat you and spitefully use you, forgive them as Christ has forgiven you.

    AND, dear Cara, see a Christian counselor. Get some help for you. You do need help to work through this so you don’t become bitter and angry. Please do this, it’s important.

    May I suggest one last thing- find another church. You need a healthy church for your own spiritual growth and this is not a place that will help you grow.

    If I can answer any other questions or help further do let me know. I will be praying for you.

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