Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, church leadership, churches, conference, ministry, pastors, prevention | Posted on 22-11-2013
I spoke to a new friend recently about his attempts to hold a small conference for pastors that warned them about the dangers of ministry failure and how to prevent it. It’s been a hope of mine to be able to put something like that together, but I am well aware that the attendance at such an event would probably be low. He and I discussed it and talked about reasons why most pastors would resist such a ministry failure prevention class or seminar or even invite a speaker for their men’s group or church leadership team.
1. The negative stigma attached to such an event
If you’re a pastor and you sign up to go to a conference where a fallen pastor or professional is speaking to you about how to avoid the pitfalls of pornography, adultery, or sexual temptation in the ministry, you are probably like most ministers – you’re afraid someone might see you there and think you have a problem. Guess what? The statistics say you probably do have a problem. Depending on what stats you read, there’s probably already a problem or one lurking around the corner if you’re not careful:
- Anywhere from 50-80% of pastors have viewed pornography in the past year
- 30% of active pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual a encounter with a parishioner
- 46% report sexual problems with their spouse
I totally get it. If there was a class in my area on how to be a better father offered by the local child development office, it would probably hurt my pride a little to walk through the door. I would at least feel bad about wearing my “World’s Best Dad” shirt to the thing.
But that’s the point. Pastors need help and advice. We are more than happy to go hear Piper, MacArthur, Dever or Sproul speak on how to be a better preacher or how to be a better expositor, but few have the humility to attend an event that deals with the very nature of our sin – the thing that would keep us from preaching for the rest of our lives.
After I fell and started ministering to fallen pastors, I started hearing the same refrain from other non-fallen ministers – “Oh, yes, brother. We have to be so careful. It could happen to any of us.” Do we really think that? Do we really believe that? I used to say that too. And guess what people said to me after I fell? “We never thought you were capable of that, Ray.”
Regardless of how humble we would like to sound with our words, none of us want to believe it will happen to us. When I wrote my book and interviewed all those fallen pastors, I discovered a common thread. None of them thought it would happen to them either. But all of us had the same set of variables that led up to our fall. The same set of things that weakened our souls to the point that we were in a place we never thought we would be. And I can almost guarantee that if I listed the four things that all the fallen pastors had in common, most every pastor reading this has already succumbed to at least two of them.
3. Attending a conference like that would expose the sin we have in our lives. And at the moment, we are enjoying our sin too much.
After ministering to fallen pastors and churches with fallen pastors, I know for a fact that there are pastors out there who are currently sinning – whether through pornography addiction, having emotional affairs, sexting women who aren’t their wives, flirting with women in their congregations, or having affairs – and they are successfully hiding it from their families and churches. Why would they ever go to a conference about ministry failure?
Some ministers are sinning right now and know what they are doing is wrong. I know, I’ve been there. But we spend an exhausting time justifying our sin. If that’s you, there’s still time to repent, turn around and get things right with God.
In conclusion, I want to put the call out to pastors, churches, church leaders, associations, denominations – whomever – we need preventative seminars. We need churches to be aware of the problem of stressed out pastors. We need church leaders to know how to minister to their pastor and to know the dangers of sexual sin that thwart them and their head pastor. We need pastors to humble themselves and become informed about the risk factors and exactly what leads up to ministry failure.
It’s time to stop this awful trend of ministry failure. To be proactive. To stop the sin and get serious about putting an end to the sin that so easily ensnaresus all.
Ray Carroll is 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.