How does a church “move on” and rebuild after a pastor’s affair?
What do they do next?
What is the process?
I responded to these and numerous other questions from a friend trying to help a church after their earthquake. What is the flow chart for this?
To be honest, each situation is different, but there are three things that frame the plan you and your church must navigate through,
The first one is the responsibility of the one who sinned. For steps 2 and 3 to happen he must repent, turn from the sin and relationship and pursue a restored relationship with God. That is primary. And, to be honest, the other steps are on hold until this one happens. Often it is years before step one actually happens. When pride or circumstance delay the first, repentance, then the others wait for this to happen.
Second, reconciliation is needed between the pastor who fell and his family, his friends, his church. This is equally hard because it demands the humble heart of a sinner coming to those wounded and asking forgiveness from them as well. Again, it may take time, but if healing is to happen this must be step 2.
And finally, there is restoration. This may or may not happen. The church may decide to not restore the pastor to his role. There is not a right or wrong answer to this, but must be led by the Spirit as they church decides what the road ahead should look like. There are situations where restoration is the best and most healing choice and others where it should never happen. This last step is the decision of the church and can be “yes” or “no” and still be right.
This whole thing is a messy business. It demands pray, repentance, humble hearts and God’s help, but there is a way to healing and health.
It will just take time.