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Why Didn’t God Stop Me From Committing Adultery?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, Christianity, church, church leadership, restoration | Posted on 20-08-2014

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adulteryIt’s a question that comes to me often. It comes across my blog search engine more than I’d think. “Why didn’t God stop me from committing adultery?

There are two different points of view on this question. Most people are on the outside of this question. Most people reading this blog are probably saying, “What kind of ridiculous question is that? Are you serious? A pastor is asking how God could keep him from committing adultery? What a sick person! He shouldn’t be in the ministry to begin with!

I hear you. I understand your objection. And you’re right. But slow your roll for a second. I’ll get to you. Remember before you get too excited that all of us have been in some situation where our sin has overtaken us and that we will find some excuse for it. All of us have fallen well short of the glory of God. All of us are despicable people. And when we are in our sin, we find a way to justify it. It’s just that when we see a pastor committing the worst sin we can imagine, we are quick to heap on him judgment.

Yes, he is wrong. Let me answer the folly of the question. I was there. I fell from the ministry and committed adultery. I didn’t ask that question, but I asked a lot of questions like that. And when I was asking questions like that, I was doing it to justify my sin.

There is no justification for sin. There is no justification for adultery. God will not stop any sin that He has clearly laid out in Scripture as wrong. He has given us His Word to let us know what is wrong. Stealing? Yeah, He covered that. Coveting? It’s there. Lying? All there. Gossip, drunkenness, slander, hatred, anger, coarse language? Sure. Adultery? It’s overwhelmingly there. There is no reason God would attempt to stop any of us from committing those sins. He has warned us over and over again from the folly of committing those sins. Cover to cover, He has shown us that it is counter to a life that is healthy, spiritual, and amazing.

Why would we even pray a prayer that started, “Lord, if you don’t want me to be an adulterous relationship, then stop it.” Seriously? He’s already given us so many written and revealed passages of why it is dangerous to the life of a believer. It is damaging to the soul. It is counter to His will. When we pray a prayer like that, I’m not even sure that He can even entertain the heart of that prayer.

So, let’s back up for a moment and think about our horrible little hearts. All of us.

If as a church, we think the best medicine for a pastor who has fallen is to throw him as far away from the healing power of Christ, then we should be ashamed.”

In my book, I detail the thought process of the fallen pastor. When he crosses the line into adultery, he starts living a lie. He crosses that line for several reasons. Once again, I must mention that there are circumstances around him that push him into that sin, but he owns that sin. He chooses that sin. He may get pushed to that brink, but that choice is his to make. He may be isolated, the church may be in conflict, he may have gone through horrible personal circumstances, his marriage may be horrible; but adultery is a choice he makes.

The pastor chooses adultery. When he does, he begins to make a framework of lies to cover up his sin. He has to hide from his marriage, his family, his church, his fellow pastors, his congregation, and his God. It may be for weeks, months, or years. He lies to everyone he knows. He does this to seek out a relationship that he feels will give him something he thinks will make him whole. It’s something he think he hasn’t felt in a very long time.

He keeps pursuing it at the risk of everything he has pursued for his entire life. In his hubris, he doesn’t think he will get caught. Some pastors hope they will get caught. They want out of the ministry. They want out of their marriage. But some think they can continue on for their entire lives.

When they do get caught – and they will – they get asked about it. And they will lie to protect their ministry, their livelihood and their reputation. And then the justification will come. And it will come in a series of questions or angry rebuttals.

Why didn’t God stop me?” “Why didn’t my wife love me more?” “Where was the church when I was hurting?

And you know what? I don’t want to dismiss those questions entirely. These men were hurting. They were under extreme amounts of hurt reachingand failure. They needed help at some point and probably felt like no one was reaching out to give them that help. Does that excuse their sin? Nope. But it does mean that they need restoration.

It does mean that the fellowship of Christ shouldn’t kick them to the curb. It does mean that they need restoration back to Christ. I’m not talking about restoration back to the pulpit. But I’m talking about wounded men and their families who need serious help. Men who have been hurt for a very long time who need to be able to put the pieces back together. Men who have been looking for answers and have been wounded by the ministry, by conflict, by isolation and need Christians to walk beside them in their most dire hour of need.

If we look at a fallen pastor and say, “Well, he cheated on his wife and we need to kick him out,” then we have probably violated the spirit of Galatians 6:1. If as a church, we think the best medicine for a pastor who has fallen is to throw him as far away from the healing power of Christ, then we should be ashamed.

There are better ways, friends. That’s why this ministry exists. I have networked with people to help pastors, their families, churches, the women they have committed adultery with and others. There is a better way. Pastors will fall. And we need to take care of all those involved. So let’s start doing it right.

Helpful links:

Restoring the Fallen” by Douglas Weiss

Restoring Fallen Pastors” by Eric Reed

Can restoration occur after a pastor has been caught in a scandal?” from Gotquestions.org

Is Your Church Equipped To Handle Ministry Failure?” Fallen Pastor

3 Things a Church Can Do When a Pastor Falls” Fallen Pastor

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Is Your Church Equipped to Handle Ministry Failure?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, fallenness, ministry, prevention, speaking | Posted on 18-08-2014

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It is my strong belief that most churches and leaders are not ready to handle the failure of a church leader. But even before that happens, I believe that it can and should be prevented.

This video is an invitation to church leaders, associational missionaries, church members, pastors and anyone who wants to prevent ministry failure in their churches. It is also a call to fallen pastors to heal and be restored back to Christ.

There seems to be a grassroots movement of people who are becoming concerned about this issue. I hope that’s the case. If you’d like to help, please share this short video and/or this website with people and their churches so that we might see ministry failure due to sexual sin stopped before it gets started.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

WBFFA: “Take Me To Church” Song and Changing Lives

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Christ, missions, music, WBFFA, youtube | Posted on 16-08-2014

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ffaHere we are. Obviously we have two artists who have been working on a song for over a year in production and release a single with the exact same title – “Take Me To Church.” And it’s really weird and coincidental.

One is by Hozier and one is by Sinead O’Connor. They are two different songs. Both have two different meanings and I would like to talk about both of them and compare what they are saying.

The whole point of my Weekly Blog Free For All is that I get a chance to talk about things that are unrelated to my ministry. It’s a chance for me to break free and speak freely of religion, fallen pastors, and ministry. However, there have been commenters this week who have felt that my blogs on my Wagon Wheel post who thought I was being overly religious in my thoughts that a wagon wheel should not rock and should roll forward. Whatever.

My WBFFA is a chance for me to separate my religious feelings from my other thoughts. It’s kinda nice, really.

When I saw Hozier’s song, “Take Me To Church,” I was enthralled by the lyrics from a secular standpoint. But the video took a whole other viewpoint, I must say. I don’t know if that was the band’s direction, but here it is:

The lyrics seem to say that one is worshiping his lover:

“I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life”

Now, I can see that. I’ve been at that point in my life. Where I am at the mercy of my lover. Where I love my lover makes more sense than anyone else. Where the church has nothing to offer me and that it has abandoned me, left me for nothing, and that my lover gives me complete resolve. I also know, from another angle, that there is much good in loving your partner in such a way, but not at the expense of forfeiting your love for Christ. That leads to much danger.

Then we have Sinead O’Connor’s Take Me To Church“:

She seems to be singing from a different angle. She is a Catholic who has been through a lot. And she has a heart that is crying out for something more:

What have I been writing love songs for?
I don’t wanna write them anymore
I don’t wanna sing from where I sang before
I don’t wanna sing that way no more
What have I been singing love songs for?
I don’t wanna sing them anymore
I don’t wanna be that girl no more
I don’t wanna cry no more
I don’t wanna die no more
So, cut me down from this here tree
Cut the ropes from off of me
Sit me on the floor
“I AM”; the only one I should adore

Did you see that? She wants something. Do you hear that modern church? Do you hear that contemporary church? She wants to belong somewhere. It’s the voice of someone who wants to belong to people who are hurting. Do we have that in our churches? Do we have something for her? Would we allow Sinead O’Connor in our churches?

She wants the “I AM.” Do we want that? She is a woman who is desiring and struggling for that. But I often doubt that many of our churches are struggling for that.

Then she says:

Oh, take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah, get me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s for

Do you know what she sounds like? She sounds like the kind of person Christ would take in willingly in a second. But many of our churches would reject her for her looks, her sound, her past, or her strengths. I can’t think of a Southern Baptist church who would welcome her in. What is wrong with us? She is seeking the living Christ. She is seeking the truth of God and is doing it through her artistic nature.

And you know what? So is Hozier to some degree. They are finding religion in their communication in other people.

Honestly, there are people in this world looking for a connection to God. They want a relationship to some sort of community of schoolprayerfaith. They aren’t finding it in organized religion. They are finding it elsewhere. Maybe it’s possible we have outdated ourselves. Our organs, our set in stone outreach programs aren’t doing it. We think that people are going to come to us.

Jesus had it right. He went to the people. He went to the people around them and connected with them. He touched them and found them where they were hurting. He went to a woman at the well in the middle of the day – when no one else would talk to her – and he connected to her. He didn’t expect her to show up at his church. He found her.

Take me to church.” There is a strong sentiment when the culture has made two songs about this. They want us to reach them. They know that there is a strong need to connect. So where are we? Are we going to continue to sit on our butts in the pews? Are we going to think that our Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon Donations are going to reach people? No. We have to intentionally love people that we see every day.

We have to bring them to Christ. To show them love. To be a neighbor. To be Christ in the world. Our donations in the offering plate is great. But it’s not going to change the world. Our love to the people – as Christ did – is what is going to change the world. It is what is going to change hearts.

Other helpful articles:

The Main Reason People Leave a Church” by Thom Rainer

John MacArthur on Outreach

Nine Ways a Pastor Can Lead a Church to Become More Evangelistic” by Thom Rainer

__________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

 

A Haunting Story of Pastor Suicide

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, book, Christ, church, churches, fallenness, hope, pastoring, pastors, self-harm, suicide | Posted on 15-08-2014

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psuicWhile writing my book, I was interviewing a fallen pastor. He shared this with me:

“I heard about a pastor who committed adultery in August then killed himself in December. I wondered, ‘Did anyone reach out to him? Did anyone love him? Did anyone seek to restore him?’ It brought back so many memories of when I wanted to die.”

That story has haunted me. In fact, it has come to fruition many times since then. Recently, I got an email from a man who told me that a pastor who fell killed himself after committing adultery.

Once again, recent events have brought the suicide question to our thoughts and hearts.

I recall a long time ago a story about a youth pastor who hadn’t committed any kind of sin, but felt all kinds of anxiety and pressure. He was a seminary student. He called his insurance company and asked if his plan covered suicide. They told him it did. The next day, he wrapped himself in carpet in his car and pulled the trigger.

Ministry is very intensive. Extremely intensive. Whether you have committed a huge sin or not. In my book, I list the pressures ministers face.

Here’s what I want to convey to you today: Pastors are under a huge amount of pressure. They may put on a front that their lives are wonderful. I know I did.

A while back, I ran into a former church member of mine. Here is how the conversation went:

She said, “I thought your marriage was so wonderful.

I said, “It wasn’t. It hadn’t been for many years.”

She said, “But it looked so good.alonepastor

I said, “Yeah, but it wasn’t. What I’ve learned is that many pastors and their wives have learned to hide their sorrows and pains of their marriages very well.”

She said, “You did a very good job.”

Friends, isn’t about time that in the church, we started being real with each other? Especially in our church leadership? I hid the failures of my own marriage from myself. What if I had gotten help earlier? What if the church leaders, members, and people actually started being real with each other?

When I talked to the fallen pastors in my book, they lamented that they couldn’t be real with the people in their churches. Unfortunately, I see story after story about pastors who commit suicide because they see no end but to kill themselves. They can’t be real with anyone. Is it an excuse? No. But they have no one to reach out to.

Maybe you are the one to reach out the them. Maybe your pastor has fallen. Maybe you are disappointed in them. Maybe you have lost faith in them. But let me tell you this – God has never given up on them. And neither should you. Don’t ever give up on another human being, regardless of how you feel about them.

Pursue them. Love them. Remember the father of the prodigal son. Never let another person feel alone, regardless of their sin. Don’t abandon anyone. Ever.

Providence And DepressionRemember the mission of Christ. He never gave up on any of us. He went to the cross for us. Bleeding, weeping, when all was lost. And he made it count.

Even when your pastor committed adultery, embezzled money, lied to you – you don’t have to agree with his sin. But gracious me. You still have to show compassion. There is still some Christ in you to forgive. To show friendship. To say, “I may not understand why you did what you did – but the Christ in me still loves me for who you are.”

That’s all that is asked of us.

Other helpful articles:

I understand that the people at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline are really awesome to talk to. Feeling like you’re on the edge? Close to it? Call them. Please: 1-800-273-8255 Check it, they have a website too: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

More links:

Why are so many pastors committing suicide?” by Crosswalk.com

Pastors: Mental Illness and Suicide” by Rev. Mark H. Creech

A Pastor’s Suicide: Addressing Mental Health in Black Churches” by Darnell Moore

Suicide: When Pastors’ Silent Suffering Turns Tragic,” by Greg Warner, USA Today

Pastors in Trouble 6: Pastors & Suicide” Fallen Pastor

Do Christians Who Commit Suicide Go To Heaven?” Fallen Pastor

Junior Seau and ‘The Easy Way Out‘” Ray Carroll on Provoketive.com

Whitney Houston and Humanity’s Most Important Question” Ray Carroll on Provoketive.com

Is Your Heart Right & Is Whitney Houston in Heaven?” Fallen Pastor

Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves” by David Wong at Cracked.com (Warning: Strong language and images – a very informative and helpful article, however concerning depression, people of humor, and how they mask it)

__________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

3 Things a Church Can Do When a Pastor Falls

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, church, church leadership, church members, fallenness | Posted on 13-08-2014

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Most churches are not equipped to handle the difficult event of a pastor who has fallen due to moral reasons. In the past four years, I’ve seen memberphow this process should not be done. So, I’d like to give some practical advice on how a church can proceed for the next few months with some dos and don’ts.

1. Do acknowledge the hurt and sin that has occurred. Don’t dwell on it negatively from positions of power.

You’re going to have hurt people. In fact, leadership is going to be hurting for a while. Make sure your church has a way to cope with all the different feelings that are going on – hurt, anger, disappointment. And there will be a lot of questions as well. Questions like, “How could he have done this?” and “Why don’t you tell us all the details?

It really is like a grief process. It’s like losing someone unexpectedly. Some members will leave the church. Do your best to check on them. Some may not want to talk. Some may want to talk too much about it. Whatever the case, provide appropriate and biblical ways for people to address their feelings.

facebook3One thing that might need to be addressed (if it gets out of hand) is the use of social media. Remind the church that they are messengers of grace to the community. It is good for them to share forgiveness and okay to express hurt, but gossip is never a good way to heal.

Leadership can lead by example. It may be difficult not to preach on topics that pinpoint the sins of the fallen pastor. It may be difficult not to say angry things in public that do nothing more than make the situation worse. Remember that many in the church will take their cues from you. Leaders are to be Christ-like in their reactions. Do they ignore sin? No. But they also understand that once sin has been committed and handed off to God, it is in His hands.

When the pastor is gone, it’s time to focus on those left behind. Begin the healing process.

2. Don’t allow the lack of a pastor put a stop to true ministry. Do choose to be active in what God is doing around you.

A lot of people, for better or worse, identify the pastor as the head of the church. He’s not. Christ is. But the pastor is the face of the church. He stands in the pulpit each week, he’s the one who carries out much of the visitation, he does the funerals, he shakes people’s hands with a smile, and his name is on the church sign. It’s good to remember the legacy he left. He did do a lot of good things in the name of God. It may take a long time to remember those good things in the wake of his sin – but he did them.

“Most pastor search committees ask really, really bad questions. In fact, many pastor search committees always tell you what the last guy did wrong by the questions they ask you.”

What I’m trying to say is that a lot of people are going to feel a little lost. That doesn’t mean that a member of leadership needs to step in and try to act like the pastor. In fact, I’d call for the opposite. When I wrote my book, I found that the reason a lot of pastors get so weak in the first place is that they spend too much time chasing after the “stuff of ministry” and not chasing after Christ.

Get the leadership together and take some time to look at what is going on in the church. Look around and see what God is doing. Sometimes we are so focused on what we are trying to do and what ministries we are trying to grow that we completely miss out on where God is at work. Sometimes God is working on a few people who are on fire for Him. Losing a leader doesn’t mean the end, sometimes it gives the community of faith a chance to reassess their love for one another and their role in the community.

3. Don’t be afraid to be without a pastor for a while. Do make sure your fellowship is ready for the next pastor God has for you.

I’ve seen churches whose pastor fell put a pulpit committee together the next week. I don’t really think that’s the wisest thing to do. This is a crude analogy, but I think you’ll understand. Have you ever been through a breakup? Relationships are tough, aren’t they? And if you tried started dating someone right away, it just didn’t work. Why? Because you were always comparing that person to the person you were just with. Because you were thinking about them.

Can I tell you a little secret that every pastor who has ever been interviewed knows? Most pastor search committees interviewask really, really bad questions. In fact, many pastor search committees always tell you what the last guy did wrong by the questions they ask you. I got into this conversation with some pastor friends of mine once. Here are some of the questions they got asked by search committees: “Do you allow women to pray?” “Do you think it’s important for the youth to sit up front?” “You do think it’s important to go visit the shut-ins, right?” “Your wife doesn’t argue much, does she?

Seriously.

Your church needs time to heal. And that’s a good thing. There are a lot of denominations that offer interim ministers that are trained to help after a pastor falls. There are men like me who are able to come in even for a few months and do training with churches to talk with them and help them with some of the issues they are going through. Make sure the church and the leadership has a healthy heart before you ask a new pastor to come in. Because it won’t be fair to him if you’re suspicious of him for sins the last pastor was guilty of.

Overall, work toward holiness and healthiness as a church body. Is it easy? Not always. Focus on the members who want to make things better. Chase after the members who are confused and frustrated. Don’t give up on anyone. Be ready to partner up stronger Christians with weaker ones. Disciple one another. Love one another. Christ gave us the church for days such as these – so that we might live abundantly and share all things together.

forgivemeOne final thought. And tuck this waaaaaaaay back in your mind. There may come a day a long time in the future when your pastor has gone through his restoration process. And a few of your members want to contact him and say, “I forgive you.” Let them. He will desperately need to hear those words. He really will. And if you’re even braver, five years or so down the road, have the church leadership contact him and ask him how he is. And offer forgiveness to him if he’s repentant. You have no idea what that could mean to him.

I and other fallen pastors still live in a time where we are repentant and living lives in the best way we know how and we would love to reconcile (or hear “I forgive you”) with those we hurt all those years ago. It may never happen on this earth or in this lifetime. But you never know.

Other helpful resources for church leaders and churches:

How can a church survive/recover when a pastor leaves?” from Gotquestions.org

Is Your Church Without a Pastor?” by Dan Reiland, Global Christian Center

Want to leave a comment? Click the “keep reading” button and join the conversation.

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

What Is Ministry?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in ministry | Posted on 11-08-2014

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I’ve had a lot of questions asked of me over the past few years. Fallen pastors ask me a lot, “Is God done with me? Will I ever be worthy pewsenough to do some kind of ministry?” (Short answers, no and yes.)

Then, I’ve had a chance to reflect on what I used to do as a pastor and what I do now, helping fallen pastors and those affected by moral failure in the church. And it has come down to one question: “What is ministry?

When I was pastoring, I think I equated ministry with working hard, studying the Bible, visiting, baptizing, putting in new programs, and making sure everyone was relatively happy. And those things can lead to ministry. But I’ve learned that in themselves, they aren’t ministry.

In the same way, I can blog, answer emails, Twitter, and write. Those things can lead to some form of ministry, but in and of themselves, they aren’t necessarily ministry.

As a pastor, I did a lot of things to “punch the clock” and put in my time. I wrote letters, made visits, preached sermons, taught Sunday School, and a lot of other tasks. Tasks. Lots of ministry is task oriented. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, he was doing a task. But at some point, it became ministry.

When do our tasks become ministry? Better yet, how can we ensure that our tasks are ministry and not just fool’s errands with no spiritual value?

I knew a little back in the day but it never really registered until I started helping other fallen pastors. It wasn’t until I was on the phone with these men, weeping with them, letting them know that life wasn’t over, telling them that Christ really did love them, that despite their sin, God heals and restores the repentant. It was about instilling hope.

It wasn’t any hope I had to offer, but the hope that Christ gives us because we belong to Him. That despite our worst failures, His grace covers our sin. The future may look bleak because of what we’ve done, but when we fall at His feet, we find that all ground is level at the foot of the cross.

And that’s where I found a definition of ministry. Ministry is being able to be Christ for a person when they need it the most. I’m not talking about having a God-complex in ministry. I’m talking about believers having Christ within us and being the servants we are called to be. And at the moment we are needed, we speak the compassion, love and truth of Christ into the life of the person who needs it most.

When I was task-oriented, I got tired of “ministry.” But that wasn’t ministry. It was errand running. But now, I find myself being able to speak the love and truth into the lives of people who need hope.

When those moments happen, I find myself in love with ministry. Ministry like I never knew it before. The ministry I was called to. A life of giving everything we have to Christ so He can love the people in this world and show them His love.

Other helpful links:

Ministry Means Service,” Grace Communion International

What is Ministry?” by Scot McKnight

What is Ministry?” from JP’s Mind

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Book Review, J. R. Briggs’ “Fail”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book review, ministry | Posted on 09-08-2014

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failJ. R. Briggs’ book, “Fail,” (IVP, Praxis) is a work that I know will help many pastors, ministers, and men who visit this blog. It’s a book about ministry failure. More specifically, it examines failure in the light of our unrealistic views of success in modern ministry. Further, Briggs speaks to the heart of failed, broken ministers to guide and encourage them back to restoration.

Brigg’s publisher sent me a copy for review. Since that time, he’s been interviewed by Ed Stetzer for Christianity Today, Patheos, Rachel Held Evans, Lockerdome, and many others. I don’t know what I can add that these excellent bloggers might have missed.

I’m a simple pastor who fell five years ago in adultery. That’s what this blog is all about. Every week I get two to three emails from fallen pastors, their wives, their mistresses, or their churches asking how to put the pieces back together again. I wrote a book about it four years ago trying to understand moral failure. Since that time, I’ve been eagerly searching for any help out there. I’ve been looking for people I can network with, resources, counselors, or people with like minds.

J. R. Briggs’ book is a resource I can trust and recommend to any fallen pastor.

When this book was suggested to me, it went straight to the top of my reading list. This site is dedicated to helping ministers and pastors who have fallen and failed because of moral issues. For the past five years, I have been looking for any allies who understand the process. There are a little pockets of people who truly understand ministry failure, but they are scattered throughout the country.

While I was reading, “Fail,” I found a brother in arms who understood failure. Briggs notes that his focus is not on one kind of failure. His own failure was due to high expectations. Instead, he focuses on the dearth of ministry failure and those who suffer from it. My own ministry focuses so much on moral failure that I had never taken time to consider ministry failure in general. The symptoms, causes, fallout, and restoration of both are almost identical.

Briggs writes about ministry failure as a man who understands it. He is practical and yet gritty when he needs to be. It’s a gritty topic that some people can’t handle, some push off into the corner, and a lot of people don’t want to understand. The reason the topic is avoided is because there are so many tough issues tied to ministry failure: Shame, church expectations, burnout, bitterness, and frustration with God. But Briggs tackles each of these issues and gives them theological, Scriptural, and personal consideration. He does it in a way that the failed briggsminister will find immediate comfort in the words of one who understands.

Here’s the game-breaker for me. Briggs’ understanding of shame. If there is an issue failed pastors need to wrestle with, it is this one. And he understands it, dissects it, and lays it out in the open.  This was an issue I had to learn to deal with on my own, but Briggs unpacks it in a way that will help any minister dealing with the issue. Shame is one of the greatest enemies of a pastor, devaluing the worth God has given us. Briggs understands the role of shame as a negative motivator in the life of the failed minister and shows a path out.

Briggs also stands out in his passages on restoration. I had not considered that a minister who had experienced failure due to reasons other than immorality would need significant restoration. After reading, the restoration process for both are very much alike. Briggs doesn’t give a step-by-step process out of the pit; that is different for every person. He does offer tremendous guidelines and encouragement for those who are looking to find a way out of discouragement and the pain left after failure.

I definitely encourage all those who come on this site looking for help to take a look at “Fail.” It covers the topic of ministry failure in a way that is thoughtful, personal, and engaging. When you’re reading it, you’ll feel like J. R. Briggs is a close friend and companion on the path. You will definitely realize that as a minister who has failed, you are not alone and definitely not insignificant.

Fail” has a tremendous amount of information in it – it asks a lot of questions. And there is enough in there to write several books. And I hope Briggs continues to write. He blogs on his site and continues to answer many of the questions he asks. But he is strong enough to face the quandary that is facing our churches today. What are we going to do about ministry failure? What are our churches going to do to prevent it? What will our seminaries going to do? What will pastors do?

J. R. Briggs is doing a lot. But it is going to take a movement to handle the great amount of failure we see in our society. I encourage all church leaders, members, pastors, seminary leaders, and associational directors to pick this book up and read it to fight the problem.

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J. R. Briggs serves as Cultural Cultivator of The Renew Community, a Jesus community for skeptics and dreamers in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. He also serves as the Director of Leadership & Congregational Formation with the Ecclesia Network and is on staff with Fresh Expression U.S. He is the creator and curator if the Epic Fail Pastors Conference, giving pastors opportunities to process failure and grow to see failure as an invitation for grace and healing instead of shame.

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

5 Blogs Worth Your Attention

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in blogs, blogs worth reading | Posted on 08-08-2014

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I love writing. And I love reading informative blogs – even ones that challenge me. One thing I like to do is point out some blogs I really blob7enjoy. Here are 5 blogs worth your attention.

1. J. R. Briggs – Notably, Briggs has written a book recently called, “Fail,” which I recommend to anyone who reads my blog regularly. My own review of this book will go up tomorrow on this blog and I have posted an Amazon review of this book as well. Briggs understands ministry failure like few others. When I started blogging about moral failure, there were few who understood it. Briggs gets the broad take of ministry failure and has even started conferences to help those who need help. If you are a pastor who has experienced failure – even outside of the moral realm – buy his book. It is enlightening, healing, and helpful. One of the big reasons failed ministers should pick up his book is his insight on shame. It is one of the biggest issues I see when I talk to fallen pastors and Briggs nails it in his book. He discusses it recently on his blog and I suggest you read it: “Why I Love (and hate) That God Takes Our Shame

2. Unsettled Christianity – Here’s a guy who gets it. Gets what? Go find out. It’s Joel Watts. Here is what he says: “originally began to blog to correct the world and their foolish opinions about Christianity, but found myself facing challenges that I didn’t accept. When I did, it unsettled me. It unsettled my neatly trimmed Christianity, and set me on a course to my present position in life.” I love his blog. He’s not afraid to express his opinion. Don’t like it? Don’t read it. But then you won’t be blessed. Know what? Start here: Doctrine prioritizes the Christ and the Church before ourselves

3. Porn to Purity - Jeff and Marsha have been working to help those who have been affected by pornography in the ministry. They have a tremendous blog and online ministry. Good place to start: “Mercy in the Garden

4. Tim Brister – Tim and I were at the same seminary in the same time era, so that makes us related I think. I suggest you start anywhere. If you start reading with one post, you’ll get lost in all of them. He’s an amazing talent with theological, practical and modern insight that will make you think with your mouth wide open. Start right here: “Easter is for the Dead

5. Daniel Darling- You will want to check him out. But before you check out his blog, you will want to read his books. Here’s a good place to start: “Civil Rights and the Gospel” – you won’t be disappointed.

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Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

Why Do Pastors Commit Adultery?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, pastors | Posted on 07-08-2014

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My site is discovered because of all types of searches. But one of the most common search phrases is “Why do pastors adulterycommit adultery?”

I did. Four years ago. I wasn’t looking to commit adultery – and I don’t believe most pastors who cross the line are looking for it. I wrote a book about my fall and the stories of eleven other men who fell. I learned a lot about the circumstances that can make a pastor weak. Pastors are responsible for their sin. There are emotional, marriage, church and other issues that I outline in my book that can make the pastor weak.

So how is it that those who are the most respected people in our communities can commit a sin that most everyone finds to be the ultimate example of betrayal? Even in Scripture, God uses the language of adultery to compare Israel to be a people who have abandoned Him spiritually.

Let’s back up for a moment. Without sounding cynical, I have always found it interesting how most people watch television and movie dramas. My favorite example is the movie, “Bridges of Madison County.” If you’re not aware of the plot, after a woman dies in her old age, her children discover she had a brief affair with a photographer a long time ago. The movie basically justifies her adultery by showing how the main character was neglected by her husband and how the photographer filled a void in her life. If you watch the movie, you will probably find yourself justifying her actions. And hey, that’s where the plot leads you. It’s Hollywood.

bridgesBut this is not a one time occurrence. Soap operas, movies, television, reality television (those are all very interesting links, by the way) are all set up to create sexual tension. Not to mention the 50 Shades drama a few years ago. We discovered that one of the main reading audiences was Christian women. We have a sexually charged society. We find ourselves rooting for characters to cheat on their spouses, but it’s okay, because they’re only characters in a fictional story.

But when adultery happens in our social circles or in our family, we find it appalling. And we should. Because it is.

But hold on for a second. When we see sex on the big screen, it is sensationalized and made to look like it has no consequences. Just like most violence. The first movie I can remember that ever showed the consequences of violence was “Unforgiven.” (Lots of Clint Eastwood in this blog.)

So where am I going with all of this?

I’m not justifying pastoral adultery. Don’t hear me saying that culture has made us weak and so any of us are prone to commit sin. No, that’s not it. But we do have an interesting social standard. We often think we are immune from television, the songs we hear, or the movies we watch. But we aren’t. How many of us tell our children, “Garbage in, garbage out“?

In my book, I note several things that lead a pastor to weakness: poor relationship with spouse, isolation, conflict with church, and overly high expectations.

Uncontrolled and not seeking help, any of us can be weakened to a point where we will commit sin. But adultery is one of the sins that most Americans seems to hate the most. Despite the fact that statistics show that 25% of Americans have cheated on their spouse but not been caught. Worse yet, 37% of pastors have crossed the line.

Should pastors or any other person cheat? No. It’s a sin. Are there factors that make people weak? Yes. When we commit sin, it’s ours. We own it. Temptation may lead us to a sin, but we don’t have to commit it.

When someone is caught in an affair, there is obviously something that is fulfilling a desire for them. And it’s happening on several fronts. There may be a need that they feel their spouse isn’t fulfilling. There is an escape from stress or conflict. Guilt? Yes. But the risk is greater affairthan the reward.

But nothing ever lasts like that. Affairs are temporary. Any way it goes, one of the people figures out that it’s a fairy tale or both of them figure out that they really want to be together. Everything falls apart. One of them wants everything or one of them realizes the risks and knows it’s not worth it. Maybe it’s guilt, maybe it’s true repentance. But most of the time the remorse comes after the physical sin has occurred.

I can’t tell you how many pastors have contacted me and said “Well, I’ve cheated, my wife doesn’t know, but I’ve stopped seeing the woman I was with. I’m just going to stop. I think I can go on like I was before.” No, you can’t. Scripture says that our sin will find us out.

One statistic in my book is that 33% of conservative clergy have crossed the line with a woman not heir spouse but have not been caught.

Why do pastors commit adultery? The same reason anyone else does. Because we sin. Because something has broken in our relationship between God. Because something is broken in our relationship with our spouse. Because we allow ourselves to get weak and don’t reach out for help. Because we think we are stronger than we are. But we are not. We all need help. We need a community of faith, mentors, friends, family and a net to fall into.

But we fall when we think we can manage our grief, our pain, our conflict, our pain all on our own. We decide to find comfort elsewhere. We never would have considered it before, but when our souls are in pain, we will be more susceptible than we have ever noexcusebeen. All of us. Not just pastors.

Bottom line. There is no excuse. We have sinned. We have fallen short. But pastors need restoration and the help of the church and community of faith. (Galatians 6:1). Any Christian who sins horribly needs the support of those around them. The Christian leaders need to see whether that Christian is going to show signs of repentance – any sign of repentance. If they do, then they need to provide help. Even if they have to go outside the church to provide it.

This ministry. Fallen pastor. That’s what it’s here for. If you don’t know where to go or if you’re confused, contact me. I am here to help.

Other Helpful Articles:

Seven Warning Signs of Affairs of for Pastors and Other Church Staff” by Thom Rainer

Why Affairs Happen,” by Cindy Crosby

How to Have an Affair (and Ruin Everything)” by Kurt Kubna

____________________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.

This Ministry, Humility, and Pride

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in blog, daughters, ministry | Posted on 06-08-2014

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The other night, my oldest daughter asked me a question I have asked myself a thousand times before. I had asked her to make a Facebook

page for my ministry, which I should have done a long time ago. A few hours later, her teenage mind had been reeling and her kind honesty wanted to know the answer to a very important question.

She has seen me look at the numbers of people who view my blog. She has seen me look at my Amazon numbers and she knows I haven’t made a dime on my book yet. She knows I get several emails a week from people who need help. But she still had a question. And I appreciated it because it was a question that was in the back of my mind. And I’m always thankful when my kids can be honest with me.

Daddy,” she asked. “I don’t want to be a jerk when I ask you this. And I don’t want this to be a jerky question.” She was sincere. It was about midnight. We were the only ones up. The television was on but there was no sound coming from it. She had set up the Facebook page about five hours before.

In the past five years, she had a front row seat for everything. She was just a child when I had committed adultery and she was the first one to forgive me for my awful sin. She had always loved me – why? Because I was her daddy. She saw me and her mother divorce. She had moved a few times within her community, watched me change, watched me go from a man who was bitter then become repentant then share with her how important it was to rest in the grace of Christ. She had seen me write a book about fallen pastors and form a blog to help those who needed a voice.

Over the years, she had heard me tell of men, women, and church leaders who needed help and had come to me for help. That everyone in this world was broken. That all of us were just a bunch of broken people who desperately needy people who needed Jesus. And in the forefront of those people, I needed Jesus the most.

But the other night, she asked me something that I had been wondering for a few years.

Daddy, what percentage of this ministry is you helping people and you needing to be popular or needing to be noticed?” she asked.

I needed someone to ask me that. I really did. And I needed to feel what it felt to be asked that. Because if there was any twinge of anger or hurt, then I had a problem. If there was any despair or guilt, then I knew I needed to get help.

For a moment in my mind, I reflected back to my pastoral days. I thought about how much I needed to please people. I’ve written about it so many times on this blog. Numbers were so important to me back then. There were days when 1oo people would show up to that community church and I would feel so happy. Then we would have an August vacation day and we would have 20 people and I would feel do disheartened. I felt like I was doing something wrong.

My response would be to start writing letters or to call people. To reach out and find out if I had done something to offend people. I thought that the church ministry had something to do with me. And that’s where I had failed. I thought church was about me. But it wasn’t. How foolish I was.

So when Abigail asked me that question, I already knew the answer. Because God is always present in giving me the answer.

Abigail,” I said. “To be honest, there are days in which my wicked heart is prideful in the numbers. My sinful heart is overjoyed with the number of people who view my blog. But those days aren’t very often.”

menabigail

Me and Abigail

Because this ministry isn’t about promoting me. It never has been. Sure, there are days when I get excited that I’ve sold a few books or a few extra people have looked at my blog, but that’s not what this is about.

I get excited when I get three emails a week from people who need help and reach out to me. But I know that I’m only reaching about five percent of the fallen pastors or people who have been affected by a fall who are out there. There are hundreds or thousands of people out there who need help and I haven’t been able to reach them. I hope they’ve found some other ministry. But I’m here to reach the ones I can.

When I promote my blog through Twitter, Facebook or other social media, I’m doing it so more people can find me. And when a church, fallen pastor, a woman who has been involved with a pastor, or anyone else can find me finds my blog, I’m overjoyed. Many of those people simply read my blog and find comfort. Some of them just email me and say ‘Thanks for a blog post, it really helped me.’ And that’s all I get. But that’s the ministry I’m called to.

I did a lot of great things when I was a pastor, but now I feel like I’m doing more effective ministry now than I ever did before. I’m reaching across continents and across the nation to help people. Abigail, you’ve heard me talk to fallen pastors, their wives, their churches, and the women they’ve been involved with. I’ve wept with them. I hurt with them.

The greatest joy I feel is when I connect with them and they say, ‘No one has understood me like you understand me.‘”

She smiled at me. Then she said, “You’re right. You’re doing a good thing to help a lot of people.

I said, “You know what really keeps me humble? What God has pride-proofed in to this? What can I really brag about this? What can I say? That I’m the greatest fallen pastor in the world? That I’m here because I committed adultery and I’m here to help people? Who’s going to ever give me an award for that? God has placed me in a position where I can never brag or get the big head. I’m always going to be the man who fell from ministry. I’m always going to be the pastor who fell. The humble pastor who is here to wash the feet of other men who need help.

That’s what is most important to me. To help the men and women across the world in ministry who are fallen who need help when no one else will help them. I’m the least helping the least.”

That made my daughter smile. And in that moment, I think I could help her understand what ministry is really all about.

Other helpful articles:

I Am a Former Pastor

3 Word to Encourage Fallen Pastors: Ron Edmonson

Thoughts on a Fallen Pastor: John Gunter

__________________

Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.

If you are a fallen pastor who needs to talk or you are someone who has been affected by a fallen pastor and would like to contact me privately, please click here. You are the main reason this ministry exists. I’m here to help you.

If you are a church, men’s group, association, conference, or news outlet and would like more information about this ministry, please click here.