It’s been almost five years now. I continue to see comments come in from churches going through this same thing. It is heartbreaking! I just read a note from Rich. Sorry I didn’t see it sooner. Rich said they are going through this now and he needed help. I know so many people and churches don’t know what to do. It’s one of those things you never expect and think “will never happen to us.” But it does.
Let me offer this to those of you who find this site. If you are going through this now and need help I would be glad to respond to any e-mail. I know it’s very difficult, but there is a path through all of this. God will help you and I will help as requested too. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to send me a note.
So, after almost five years here’s our situation- We are STILL working our way through all of this mess. Our church has almost completely turned over, in other words almost everyone here is new in the last five years and nearly everyone who was here five years ago has left. That is heartbreaking and devastating, but I do understand. We have a whole new family of people who don’t even know what happened and have no idea who the pastor was before the one we have now.
There is still our core. About 20-30 % stayed through it all. They were the core at the beginning. All the rest seem to be those who look for the next good “show.” I know, I sound a little frustrated by that, but actually I’m just trying to put what I see in honest words. There is a fringe of people in any growing church that will not stay if something, anything, goes wrong. If you are going through a pastor and his affair just know that 1/3 to 1/2 of your people will leave. It’s ok. It happens. Don’t be shocked, don’t panic. God will take care of you.
For us it means we are about 1/2 the size we were. There are other mistakes we made in the fall out from the affair that made this number higher, but going through an affair of a pastor you will make mistakes. For us the mistakes were attempts to “get a different kind of pastor” so this wouldn’t happen again, but honestly it’s not the style of the man it’s his heart. That mistake cost us…..and there are others.
Five years out now I’m meeting regularly with the pastor who fell. When we meet all he can talk about is those days five years ago. He’s stuck there. He is out of the ministry, knows that he threw his whole ministry and life passion away, but there is nothing he can do to get it back. He told me, last time we had lunch, “this is my purgatory.” I understand what he’s talking about. Has he repented? Yes, but not to the satisfaction of those he hurt. I don’t think some of them would be happy until he’s strung up on a cross to pay for his sins. The wounds go that deep for some.
There is still unforgiveness in our church, some who won’t or can’t forget or forgive. We are praying for them. But, as of this writing, the church doors are still open, we are still teaching God’s word and looking to the future. The scars from our past have made us a different church. We may never again be what we were, but isn’t that the way with sin? It changes everything. But, God is good and his grace has brought us to today. We will trust him for tomorrow. You will have to do that as well.