Should Churches Reach Out to a Former Fallen Pastor?

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Should Churches Reach Out to a Former Fallen Pastor?

Should churches reach out to for­mer fallen pas­tors?

What do you do when your pas­tor fell a few years ago and you may want to reach out to him now? What if there is still hurt there?

(Note: I finally remem­bered the pass­word to my old Fallen Pas­tor blog. I went there and started dig­ging around. It was fun. That was back when I was blog­ging anony­mously. There are some real trans­par­ent and stu­pid moments there, but also some redeem­ing ones. Here’s one I’ve edited a bit but still holds true.)

Online Info About Fallen PastorsI say do it. The longer time goes on, the harder you will find it to reach out and heal that wound.

There are many vari­ables involved and I’m sure I’ll miss some. But know this — it’s not a per­fect process. It just mat­ters that you do it with the right spirit and attitude.

Whether the break between your church and fallen pas­tor was one year, ten or 20 years ago, wounds will be reopened. That’s natural.

I’ve pre­vi­ously dis­cussed why churches and fallen pas­tors should rec­on­cile. But the how isn’t quite as easy, espe­cially when a lot of time has passed.

Before you go, get your motives right. Go with an Eph­esians 4:13 atti­tude: I there­fore, a pris­oner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing to which you have been called, with all humil­ity and gen­tle­ness, with patience, bear­ing with one another in love, eager to main­tain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV)

Go to your for­mer pas­tor out of love — NOT to set­tle the mat­ter, not to fight, not to dredge up the past, not to hash out what went wrong, but to love and be reasonable.

Let me say some­thing very impor­tant about fallen pas­tors. Don’t always expect a mirac­u­lous response. You may not know where he went after the fall. He may be doing well. He may be doing very mis­er­ably. He may have moved on or he may have become a very bit­ter, cyn­i­cal man. He may wel­come your con­tact or he may ques­tion your motives.

It may be that he does not respond well to your com­ing at first. But it may be that your ini­tial approach is what God uses to begin to work in your for­mer pastor’s life to renew his spirit as well.

If he shows no signs of repen­tance at all, it may be wise to send one per­son, or sim­ply to wait. But if there are any signs of repen­tance what­so­ever, you might be sav­ing his life. Think Gala­tians 6:1.

You may be tempted to think, “Well, he’s the one who sinned.” That’s right. He is. And every day since, he has paid for it. Through pub­lic scorn. Through the scorn of fel­low pas­tors. But worse, he has beaten him­self up for it.

Some think he deserves the worst pun­ish­ment imag­in­able, but Chris­tians, he does not. He deserves the grace and love of Christ every bit as much as you do. His sin hurt you to the core, but Christ cov­ered his sin at Cal­vary just as He cov­ered yours. I can almost guar­an­tee that your for­mer pas­tor craves the for­give­ness of God and your pub­lic for­give­ness like you can’t imag­ine.

Trust me. I know.

It may be that since his fall, he has said or done things that make him look like an unbe­liever. He may have acted like a com­plete fool or done things you dis­like. To this, I reconsay, if it were you who had acted as such dur­ing his tenure as pas­tor, he likely would have chased after you in love. And if that was not his char­ac­ter, the Christ would have pur­sued you. And we are to be like Christ, after all.

What I’m propos­ing — rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with a fallen pas­tor — the man who hurt you, your fam­ily, his fam­ily, embar­rassed your church before the com­mu­nity, is not an easy thing. But ulti­mately it is very Christ­like. Christ pur­sued us and bore the wrath of our sin and asks us to for­give likewise.

I’d like to pro­pose to you a plan for reach­ing out to your for­mer pas­tor. First, remem­ber this. Your church put together a pul­pit com­mit­tee, selec­tion com­mit­tee or what­ever your denom­i­na­tion does. That com­mit­tee, under the divine guid­ance (hope­fully) of God called that man to be pastor.

Your church voted, prob­a­bly over­whelm­ingly and he served your local fel­low­ship. God does not make mis­takes. How­ever, peo­ple do. At the same time, we know from Romans 8 that God is sov­er­eign in all things. We also know that He is not the author of sin, but He works all things together for His glory.

Your pas­tor fell, for what­ever rea­son, and despite what you believe about God’s sov­er­eignty, God had called this man to your church.

The fall of a pas­tor is dev­as­tat­ing. It can destroy a man. You’ve seen the way the national media drags nation­ally known pas­tors through the mud for adul­tery. When it hap­pens in the local church it hap­pens on a smaller scale.

One would think this would be the time for Chris­tians to sur­round a fallen Chris­t­ian in love and mercy. But too often, the fallen pas­tor is scorned and run out of town on a rail. Why? Because he has harmed the church. He hurt peo­ple on a per­sonal level. He has betrayed them.

A pas­tor friend told me once the church acts like a scorned woman when a pas­tor falls. That com­ment is dead on. I don’t blame the church for this. It is under­stand­able. How­ever, there needs to be a race at some point to move beyond hurt and reconcile.

That does not mean that the hurt is not still there. That does not mean that the rela­tion­ship between church and fallen pas­tor is the same. It sim­ply means that we are able to for­give as Christ for­gave us.

_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​_​

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. I have coun­seled over 500 pas­tors, church lead­ers, denom­i­na­tion lead­ers, pastor’s wives, “other women,” and more in the past six years. I will not judge you and I will keep all your infor­ma­tion com­pletely confidential.

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

Should churches reach out to former fallen pastors?

What do you do when your pastor fell a few years ago and you may want to reach out to him now? What if there is still hurt there?

(Note: I finally remembered the password to my old Fallen Pastor blog. I went there and started digging around. It was fun. That was back when I was blogging anonymously. There are some real transparent and stupid moments there, but also some redeeming ones. Here’s one I’ve edited a bit but still holds true.)

Online Info About Fallen PastorsI say do it. The longer time goes on, the harder you will find it to reach out and heal that wound.

There are many variables involved and I’m sure I’ll miss some. But know this – it’s not a perfect process. It just matters that you do it with the right spirit and attitude.

Whether the break between your church and fallen pastor was one year, ten or 20 years ago, wounds will be reopened. That’s natural.

I’ve previously discussed why churches and fallen pastors should reconcile. But the how isn’t quite as easy, especially when a lot of time has passed.

Before you go, get your motives right. Go with an Ephesians 4:1-3 attitude: I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV)

Go to your former pastor out of love – NOT to settle the matter, not to fight, not to dredge up the past, not to hash out what went wrong, but to love and be reasonable.

Let me say something very important about fallen pastors. Don’t always expect a miraculous response. You may not know where he went after the fall. He may be doing well. He may be doing very miserably. He may have moved on or he may have become a very bitter, cynical man. He may welcome your contact or he may question your motives.

It may be that he does not respond well to your coming at first. But it may be that your initial approach is what God uses to begin to work in your former pastor’s life to renew his spirit as well.

If he shows no signs of repentance at all, it may be wise to send one person, or simply to wait. But if there are any signs of repentance whatsoever, you might be saving his life. Think Galatians 6:1.

You may be tempted to think, “Well, he’s the one who sinned.” That’s right. He is. And every day since, he has paid for it. Through public scorn. Through the scorn of fellow pastors. But worse, he has beaten himself up for it.

Some think he deserves the worst punishment imaginable, but Christians, he does not. He deserves the grace and love of Christ every bit as much as you do. His sin hurt you to the core, but Christ covered his sin at Calvary just as He covered yours. I can almost guarantee that your former pastor craves the forgiveness of God and your public forgiveness like you can’t imagine.

Trust me. I know.

It may be that since his fall, he has said or done things that make him look like an unbeliever. He may have acted like a complete fool or done things you dislike. To this, I reconsay, if it were you who had acted as such during his tenure as pastor, he likely would have chased after you in love. And if that was not his character, the Christ would have pursued you. And we are to be like Christ, after all.

What I’m proposing – reconciliation with a fallen pastor – the man who hurt you, your family, his family, embarrassed your church before the community, is not an easy thing. But ultimately it is very Christlike. Christ pursued us and bore the wrath of our sin and asks us to forgive likewise.

I’d like to propose to you a plan for reaching out to your former pastor. First, remember this. Your church put together a pulpit committee, selection committee or whatever your denomination does. That committee, under the divine guidance (hopefully) of God called that man to be pastor.

Your church voted, probably overwhelmingly and he served your local fellowship. God does not make mistakes. However, people do. At the same time, we know from Romans 8 that God is sovereign in all things. We also know that He is not the author of sin, but He works all things together for His glory.

Your pastor fell, for whatever reason, and despite what you believe about God’s sovereignty, God had called this man to your church.

The fall of a pastor is devastating. It can destroy a man. You’ve seen the way the national media drags nationally known pastors through the mud for adultery. When it happens in the local church it happens on a smaller scale.

One would think this would be the time for Christians to surround a fallen Christian in love and mercy. But too often, the fallen pastor is scorned and run out of town on a rail. Why? Because he has harmed the church. He hurt people on a personal level. He has betrayed them.

A pastor friend told me once the church acts like a scorned woman when a pastor falls. That comment is dead on. I don’t blame the church for this. It is understandable. However, there needs to be a race at some point to move beyond hurt and reconcile.

That does not mean that the hurt is not still there. That does not mean that the relationship between church and fallen pastor is the same. It simply means that we are able to forgive as Christ forgave us.

__________________

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. I have counseled over 500 pastors, church leaders, denomination leaders, pastor’s wives, “other women,” and more in the past six years. I will not judge you and I will keep all your information completely confidential.

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 comments

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  • In light of the true gospel Jesus preached to the poor, why are we even asking this question? We have a responsibility to offer what we have been offered. The reason the church is at best reticent to offer a position (temporary or permanent) to a “fallen” pastor, or worse, refuses to offer the pulpit to a “fallen” pastor is because we tend to shoot our wounded in the name of “holiness!” to which I say, “As if…” No, we are specifically commanded to forgive in Matthew 6:15 and other places, and there are the consequences of not restoring one who has fallen into sin in Galatians 6:1; i.e. the devil then gains permission to assay the person who refused to restore. I’m talking a major angle he uses to conduct spiritual warfare against the body of Christ. I am always blown away when churches turn on their fallen pastor. Do we call an orphan, a foundling when they are adopted??? No, we call them a son or a daughter. Do we call a Christian who has passed away, dead??? No, we refer to them as having graduated. Do we call a person who has received the gift of salvation through faith a sinner??? Some do, and there’s the rub. Christians sin, but we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. I am tired of all the mumbo jumbo theologically about “positional” grace, versus judgmental grace, etc. It’s all condemnation masquerading as holiness. In two of the churches that I have attended through the years, the pastor fell and the congregation wanted to lynch one and pity the other, both reactions completely useless. EVERY SINGLE PERSON that Jesus said the Words, “Now go and sin no more,” was blessed FIRST, BEFORE he forgave their sin. WE MUST FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE!!! He didn’t say to the woman caught in adultery, “Woman, neither do I ACC– USE YOU…” Instead, He said, “Neither do I condemn you.” This is the bottom line: the church judges and condemns and refuses to restore. Do we really believe that the woman whom Jesus restored went out and continued her affair? In light of this belief, some are actually accusing the Father of not doing proper work in the life of sinners. This issue exposes all kinds of unbelief and condemnation. I’m gratified there are some success stories after a fall, but truthfully, very few. I am so glad that your blog is tackling some of these issues. It’s time for us to grow up into grace, or else we will be treated as those who said, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, cast out demons, and done many signs and wonders in Your name?” He will simply say, “Away from me, I never KNEW you…,” because without love, there is no holiness.

    One man’s heart-felt conviction from the cheap seats.

    Innocente

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