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.
Finally, after 10 years, it’s time to put all of this together in a book. It’s now available in the Amazon store HERE.
If your church is going through the fall of your pastor or if you need help for your own odyssey through this tragedy I invite you to get the book and use it as a resource for your church, your own walk or a friend struggling as they deal with a pastor’s fall. Do let me know your thoughts on this finished work. I never knew how hard it was to write a book!
Often others write of their own pain and struggle. One of those who writes well is Kyle Barlow. You can and should read his thoughts at: “The Way Back”. It will encourage you and help you in your own walk with God.
This fall, in fact next month, it will be 10 years since the fall of our pastor. You may ask, “why are you still writing about it?” I write about it to let you know that you will survive, your church may not be the same, but God will work, Christ will still be pastor of your church and in spite of the pain today there is hope for tomorrow.
At the 10 year marker I think I’ve said enough on this topic to help you as you navigate your own “earthquake” for your church. If you find yourself at this site because you are looking for help I think you will find it here. Read the posts, look for what you need, send me an e-mail if you need help or just need advice. I have been blessed to help many as they have worked through the pain of their own church disaster.
Thank you for stopping by.
This morning I have been thinking about our church before and after the affair. I don’t know why I haven’t thought through all of this before, but it’s as if the light bulb just came on, “HEY! Our church has changed!”
BEFORE- we were a bible teaching church with a great bible teaching pastor (the one who fell), dearly loved and gifted. Everyone had their bibles and highlighters ready because he was going to lead us through the word. It was a strong and intentional discipleship church. To be sure we were not perfect. There were a lot of things we needed to fix, but we knew who we were and everyone knew what the growth path was when they joined.
AFTER- all that has changed. On a host of levels this is not the same church it was 10 years ago. I could go into details, but the point is simple, we have changed!
Personally, I grieve over the losses on a multitude of fronts, but I also celebrate some of the changes. We still aren’t perfect, we still have problems and things aren’t as they should be, but we are beginning to grow again….a completely different vision and church than it was a decade ago.
In the long shadows of our pastor’s fall are a host of losses. But, I see God working as well. New people coming to faith, people growing, community happening. It’s not the same, but it never will be. That old church is gone.
Often we don’t have an adequate funeral for the church that was….it will never be that way again, but we also fail to celebrate the church that has come from the ashes.
In all of it I pray that Christ might be glorified in spite of the failings of men. And, it seems he has been here. It sure hasn’t turned out as I imagined, but he is working and for that I praise him!
I’m sorry I haven’t updated you on our status. I just realized today that this will be 10 years since our great earthquake and the fall of our pastor.
I saw our former pastor yesterday. He is walking with God, growing in his faith and keenly aware of the fall out of what he did.
Sadly, what we experienced is not rare. It happens every day. A pastor pursues a lady in his church. A woman is drawn to the strong leadership of her pastor. Defenses weaken, affections are entangled, a kiss….a hug and then tragedy, sin and destruction.
In a culture where an affair is considered good sport it is still a major sin in the church and should be! A pastor is called on by God to live a holy, godly life and be an example for the church family and the world around. But when they fall, and they do every day, everyone says, “See, I told you it was all fake, all a lie!” And the church becomes a laughing stock, a joke to a cynical world.
Pray for your pastor. His temptations are greater than he knows. He is a target for the enemy and any time the enemy can tempt a pastor to sin many lives are affected. It’s actually the enemies best way of destroying the church.
Our church is now 1/3 the size it was. We have a new pastor. The entire staff (except for me) is all new and no one thinks of the old days, but the actions of 10 years ago destroyed a church family and changes countless lives.
I look forward to the redemptive work of God in the midst of all of this. I can’t wait to see how God glorifies his name after all that the enemy has done. One day we will see it, but for now we rebuild after the earthquake.
If you are visiting this site it’s because you have just discovered your pastor has fallen. Or, perhaps you are the pastor looking for help. No matter your status this site has resources to help. Nearly 8 years ago our church went through the fall of our pastor. This site journals that odyssey with a number of articles to help.
Wander around, read what we discovered, and if needed send me an e-mail. I will be glad to help in any way I can.