Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, blog, community, fallenness, forgiveness, grace, ministry | Posted on 06-01-2014
Once in a while, I like to look at my site stats and see what people are searching for. More and more, people have searched for “list of pastors who have committed adultery,” or “names of pastors who have committed adultery.”
I blogged about this topic for Provoketive Magazine on March 7, 2012. The article gets its fair share of hits.
For four years, the majority of searches that have led people to this site were searches like “pastors and adultery,” “how to forgive a pastor,” “how to help a fallen minister,” or “should pastors who commit sin be allowed back in the pulpit.” But more and more, people are simply asking for lists.
What is our fascination with lists? Go to Google and type in “list of pastor scandals” and you’ll get more than one blog that has a list of “Hall of Shame” of pastors or how pastors who fall are the most horrible people imaginable.
The trend of people searching and looking to compile such lists should give us pause. I have a few ideas why this trend exists and would like to share them.
It might be that someone is using a search engine to find out whether a specific pastor they know, or their pastor who committed adultery, found his way on a master list somewhere. This supposes that a master list exists in the first place. But why would a church member want to find their pastor’s name? Maybe they want details, maybe they’re trying to make sense of why he committed the sin in the first place, or maybe they are looking for a way to share the story with others.
2. People are noticing the alarming trend in pastor failure.
Pastors are falling at an alarming rate. In my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” I list several pages of statistics that should make the average Christian shudder. Pastors are under a tremendous amount of stress, their ministries are crumbling, they are looking outside their marriage for love, some are sinning and not getting caught, and it’s not getting much better. Typically, when we hear about a mega-church pastor falling in the news, it is just the tip of the iceberg. We never hear about the small-church pastors, bi-vocational pastors, or medium-sized church pastors who are falling at the same rate.
3. People want to do something and don’t know where to start.
Over the past few months, my inbox traffic has picked up. Fallen pastors, their wives, churches, church members, and any number of people looking for help. Several new blogs have popped up over the past year of fallen pastors telling their story of their fall from ministry. Some have even emailed me telling me that they were inspired by my story.
All of this tells me something important. Something exists today that did not exist five years ago – a better awareness of a serious problem. When I fell almost five years ago, there was almost nothing online to help fallen ministers. Today, there is a groundswell of help. It’s not always easy to find, but it’s there for those who are really interested in searching for it.
This year, I’m hoping for big things. I’ve talked to people about serious plans for speaking to more church groups, conferences, and men’s groups. I hope that one day, some of us will be able to hold a conference on pastoral health and share what we’ve learned. I pray that the epidemic of fallen pastors will become nil. That it won’t be a news story.
I pray that this is the year when the dreams I’ve shared with others will begin to materialize and God willing, lives will be changed.
I pray that this is the year that churches become aware that their pastor is under a tremendous weight and that the institution needs to change. I pray that churches and their leadership come together to help the pastor before weakness can take hold of him.
I pray that no longer will pastors say that the ministry is a thing that weakens their marriages, but bolsters it.
And I hope and pray that when people search for “list of fallen pastors,” the top result will be, “list of pastors whom God rescued.” Lord willing, we can and will make it happen.
Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” If you are a fallen pastor, a pastor in trouble, a church whose pastor has fallen, or need someone to talk to your group about preventing ministry failure, please feel free to contact Ray here. All messages will be kept confidential.