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Hurting Pastors: I Know You’re Out There

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, book, Christ, church, church members, pastoral care, pastoring, pastors | Posted on 31-10-2012

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Pastors. I know you’re out there. You’re hurting. I wrote a whole chapter on statistics of how pastors are in pain and need help. You can probably read it for free at Amazon at my book site at Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Fallen World.

  • 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses are discouraged and are dealing with depression
  • More than 40% of pastors and 47% of their spouses report they are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules and unrealistic expectations
  • 77% said they felt they did not have a good marriage
  • 71% stated they were burned out and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis
  • 30% said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishoner
  • That’s not to mention the statistic that 60-80% of pastors are engaged in online pornography at some point

Where are you, pastor?

I’m a fallen pastor. Three years after a fall. I get emails, two or three a week from men who have fallen or are about to fall. Men who know they are weak or who recognize they have passed the point of no return. Where are you?

Let’s deal with some realities.

First, pastoring is not an easy task. Yes, God has called you to it. It is a gritty, difficult job. People call you all times of the day to minister to them. Some of you have been seminary trained. You have been theologically trained. But when you hit the real world, you  realize you are in a place where you are not practically trained.

You give, give and give to people. You do funerals, marriages, preach three or four times a week, counsel, visit, mediate deacons meetings, sit in committee meetings, listen to praises and complaints. The Barna Group tells us that a pastor is expected to juggle 16 major tasks at once. That does not include his own family.

It is hard work. You are projected upon a pedestal. You are the head of the church. You are the man on the billboard, the man in charge of the ship, the director of all operations. And at times it is overwhelming. It’s hard, isn’t it? Some days, it’s just hard to put your church face on and go to church on Sunday and act nice, isn’t it?

Some pastors will disagree. They will say that everything is fine where they are. They love what they do. It’s a wonderful blast of Christianity. But I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to those of you who understand what I’m getting at.

You who understand me. You who have found yourselves in the midst of confusion and programs, losing intimacy with your wife, not having close friends, having conflict within your church, not having anyone to talk to, going home frustrated each week. Having church members complain more than they compliment. I understand. That is the way it is with many pastors across the country.

So where are you, pastor?

There are several steps before you reach the cliff. I don’t want you to get there.

First, you find yourself putting your energy into programs. Into ministry. There’s nothing wrong with ministry. But when you sacrifice ministry for pursuing Christ, there’s a problem. When we seek to fill pews instead of pursing the heart of Christ, we have a problem.

Secondly, when we find ourselves estranged from our spouses. When we come home complaining to our spouses about the church and they don’t listen, we have a problem. When our spouse isn’t plugged into our ministry, there is a very serious problem. If your spouse isn’t your best friend in the entire world, you need to stop everything you are doing and take a hiatus from everything. Seriously. Because you’re about to have serious problems.

Because if that is happening, there is a great chance you are involved in online pornography or lust of some sort. Get help. XXXchurch.com has some great help for you that is anonymous. Don’t let it get out of hand.

Of all of the men I have counseled, lust is a serious problem. Know why? It’s not because you’re filthy. It’s because the ministry demands so much of you. Because people come at you wanting so much day after day. And at the end of the day, you ask, “What about me?” And that selfish side of you begins to ask, “Yeah, what about me?” And you mind begins to wander. Don’t let it. Get help. Get support.

Find friends, mentors, fellow pastors.

We are told in the ministry to not make friends with those within the church. That’s a lie. Do it. Grow close to those you can trust. Bare your soul before you destroy the gift God has given you.

Trust me.

Finally, what do you do when you’ve crossed the line?

Email me. I’m here. Nothing you have done can possibly shock me. I’ve heard it all. I will promise to listen to you. I will call you and talk to you. If I can’t help you, I will find someone who can.

Listen, I committed adultery, my wife and I divorced and I married another woman. I now run a ministry to help fallen pastors. I am here to help fallen pastors, their wives, the women they left, the churches that are hurt, and anyone else left in the wake. I hurt for all of them. That is the brand God has left on my heart. So be 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.

 

The Confused Community: The Wounded Church, Part 3

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, anger, bitterness, Christianity, church members, churches, community, gossip, hurt, reconciliation, relationships, repentance, restoration | Posted on 26-10-2012

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(This is part three of a series of who is effected by the fall of a pastor. It’s been three years since my own fall from ministry and hopefully since writing Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World, talking to people who have hurt and been hurt, I have some hopeful advice.)

When a pastor falls, a sort of shock wave goes out through the community at large. The church finds out first and word spreads through many different sources. Some of the stories are shared accurately and some of the details become distorted as the tale is passed on.

Let’s look today at how the fall of a pastor effects the different parts of the community.

1. Those attached to the church

The local church is typically considered to be those who are members and attend with some regularity. Those who are attached might be regular attenders who have never joined, those who are members who consider it their home church, those who live in the community who attend strictly for special services, or those who send their children to the church but do not attend themselves. All of them hold some fondness for the church for a particular reason.

In the years since my fall, I’ve had a chance to talk to some of these folks and how the pastor’s fall had an effect on them. For some, there was great anger toward him and his sin. They were angry that he could commit such a sin and some returned to the church during the turmoil to show support. Some, if they were still members, would willingly show up to vote him out if he had not yet resigned.

Read more after the jump…

Join Me This Sunday

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in preaching | Posted on 25-10-2012

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This Sunday I’ll be sharing my testimony at Macedonia Baptist Church in North Christian County, Kentucky. Services start at 11:00.

I’ll be talking about my fall from ministry and the grace and forgiveness Christ has shown me.

Here’s a link to the location.

Hope to see you there!

The Devastated Spouse: The Wounded Church, Part 2

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, church, church members, compassion, counseling, culture, divorce, fallenness, marriage, pastoring, pastors, reconciliation, repentance, restoration, wife | Posted on 17-10-2012

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In this series, I’m trying to address all of the people who are effected by the fall of a pastor. Not only that, I’m asking, what can everyone do in the wake of his fall?

I get emails each week from many different people; pastors who just fell, wives whose husbands fell, churches whose pastors fell, etc. – and most are in a state of panic. “What happens now? What am I supposed to do right now?

There are no easy answers. There isn’t a handbook that gives a quick answer. I’d love to say the book I wrote has easy, fast answers for everyone to patch up the damage that has just been inflicted. But in the wake of a fall, it takes time, understanding, patience and a willingness to forgive.

Today’s article is  on a very sensitive topic – the devastated spouse. I feel completely unqualified to write this because as the fallen pastor, I hurt my former wife. I’m not going to discuss my previous relationship, instead, I will rely on the interviews I did for my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” and the interactions I’ve had since then with people.

Read more after the jump.

The Church As Mistress: The Wounded Church, Part 1

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, churches, compassion, fallenness, grace, Hershael York, hurt, ministry, pastoring, pastors, repentance, restoration | Posted on 09-10-2012

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I got an email a few weeks ago from a friend of mine, Ben Simpson, who reminded me of the dangers of pastors loving their churches more than Christ. I suggest you go read his blog. He’s a great thinker and theologian and as a young man, has a lot to offer us in today’s world. He has a heart of gold and much to share in this ever changing world.

He reminded me of a section in my book where I wrote about the church as the pastor’s “first mistress.” Shocked? Well, hold on. Let me go back and explain myself.

I’m writing this series to help people understand all the people who are effected by the fall of an adulterous pastor, or a pastor who falls for any reason. People are left in the wake of his sin. Churches, wives, friends, denominational leadership, associational leadership, family, etc. What is everyone supposed to make of this?

I was there, as a pastor, three years ago, almost to this day. I blogged about it anonymously and wrote a book about it called, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” It’s a book for fallen pastors, churches who have been betrayed by fallen pastors, wives of fallen pastors, anyone who has sinned greatly, those who distrust religion, and anyone looking for answers. No holds barred. I obviously have a heart to love on anyone who has fallen from grace. Why? Because Christ did. He loves us regardless how far we fall.

But let’s get back to reality. The pastor has committed adultery. He has been caught, red-handed. He has led your church for however many years. He has baptized your children, has led passionate sermons, put together some great programs for the lost, assembled numerous Vacation Bible Schools, but now, he’s a wretch. A complete loser. He violated the seventh commandment. Let’s kick the guy out.

Let me start with this little fact that you, as a church member, may not know. Keep reading after the jump.

The Wounded Church: Understanding Those Involved

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, hurt | Posted on 04-10-2012

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In this blog, and in my book, I have tried to outline the reasons pastors fall from their ministry and the need to reach out to them and restore them to Christ. At the same time, I’ve also written about how the pastor is responsible for his sin, but the church is responsible for his restoration back to Christ. I’ve argued that the church culture has been so ingrained with the idea that the adulterous pastor should be immediately removed and kicked to the curb that not many people have compassion for him or any reason to reach out to him in the first place.

All of those blog posts are out there and my book is filled with it as well.

Over the past three years, I’ve gotten email from other people who are involved in the church that has been wounded by the fall of the pastor. They matter as well. I don’t want people to think that I don’t care about them. I absolutely do. I simply have considered myself an expert of how the fallen pastor feels.

At this time and after a few years, I feel like I can identify with others within the wounded church better. Over the next few blogs, I’d like to take time to deal with a few other people involved in the church when the pastor’s fall: The hurt church, church leadership, the pastor’s wife, “the other woman”, fellow ministers, and the public.

If you have any ideas you’d like to insert or comments before I write these, please let me know.

__________________

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 Songs for the Fallen Pastor: I Have A Shelter

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in fallenness, music, pastors | Posted on 03-10-2012

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Over the last few posts, I’ve tried to share the turmoils of the fallen pastor through song.

This is the final post in this series. I’ve shared this song before but it is always relevant.

It is a reminder that no matter grow far we fall, how terribly we sin, how scared we are or how miserable we feel, Christ is there.

This song has given me great moments of comfort, praise, humility, affirmation, and reminders of how great God’s love is for me, even though I don’t deserve it.

The world is free to stand by and cast stones, but Christ covers His children with His shelter.