Featured Post

Pastors and Divorce

Many pastors who have committed adultery end up with the woman they commit adultery with. I was one. Let me share with you a couple of things before I start. The statistic is non-negotiable: 2% of marriages that are the result of adultery succeed. You get that? That means if you marry someone who you...

Read More

When a Pastor Falls, pt. 1: What Can Leaders Do?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, affair, church, church leadership, church members, churches, conflict, fallenness, gossip, leadership, ministry, pastoring, pastors, preachers, reconciliation | Posted on 02-10-2014

1

I wanted to be able to write something to help churches and leaders have a guide for when their pastor falls. The crisisproblem is that no two situations are quite alike. And yet, all situations are very similar. For the next few posts, I want to give some help that comes from my experience and from the things I’ve read in the past four years.

When a pastor falls, it’s not an easy experience for anyone. The advice I’m giving is general advice for when a church learns that their pastor has fallen morally. He might have committed adultery with another person, he might have been engaged in what he calls an “emotional affair“, or he might have been engaged in a long time addiction to pornography. This post is designed to help the leaders in the church when the find out their pastor has fallen.

I want to start off with a few basic reminders before I start throwing out advice.

1. Remember that each and every decision needs to be bathed in prayer. People will be quick to act, easy to anger, and will be very hurt. Prayer has a way of focusing us in the right way.

2. Remember that decisions based on God’s Word, no matter how difficult they might be, will always be the right ones. A pastor who has committed adultery has forfeited his right to shepherd the flock for a time (that topic to be covered later).

3. But always remember that decisions based on God’s Word are always to be made with grace, love, and humility. If the pastor is removed, it should always be done with the grace of Galatians 6:1.

4. Never forget that there are many people involved in this matter. One man’s sin may be at the forefront, but there are many others who need care and need to see the church act with truth, love, and grace.

5. Keep it confidential until a decision is made. If your church leadership is gathering facts and talking to the pastor, gossip should not be part of anyone’s life. When the facts come in, your pastor may be cleared. If one of the church leaders goes home and tells his spouse all the details of an important meeting and word gets out and severely twisted, the damage may be too great.

6. Finally, never be afraid to ask for outside help. If your church leadership team isn’t sure about what to do, or you feel like you can’t seem to agree, find a mediator. Ask an expert for help. There are a lot of people I know and there are people provided by your denomination or association who can offer wisdom. Never feel like you’re alone or that you’re the first ones to go through this.

truefalseSo let’s get to some first steps in this matter. I don’t want to assume anything – like I said, people tend to find out differently and people tend to react differently.

Get The Facts Straight

Finding out that the pastor has committed some sort of adultery is not easy. The information can come in many different ways:

  • A rumor that has spread in the community
  • A church member might approach the church leadership with a printed out series of emails or Facebook messages that prove the pastor’s infidelity
  • An anonymous letter is sent to the pastor and church leadership from a woman claiming to be his mistress
  • The pastor’s wife might approach a deacon regarding her suspicions about the minister and a church member or staff member
  • A staff member might tell church leadership of an ongoing affair
  • At the end of a service, a church member/staff member might confess that the pastor has been cheating with them
  • The rumor might begin on a social media site (Facebook, Twitter) and get picked up by local media

There are many ways that church leadership can get informed of an issue the minister might be having. I’ve heard of or witnessed all of the scenarios listed above. The easiest thing to do is panic. The knee-jerk reaction is to fire the pastor.

The best thing to do is for the church leadership is to respond in a calm and biblical manner. Most church by-laws require some sort of due process for the minister. It is important to have a meeting with him. Before that meeting takes place, it is a good idea to do fact gathering from people who are knowledgeable about the situation.

The church leadership should take seriously any first-hand evidence that is presented to them. Always be wise with any evidence, discernmentunderstanding the people presenting it. Such a time requires discernment. If a person asks for a meeting with the church leadership and confesses to an affair with the pastor, should their claim be taken seriously? Absolutely. They have a right to be heard. Their claim should not be rejected outright. If they have evidence of communication, it is even more helpful. A problem can arise when someone rejects their claim because this person, “Isn’t the pastor. They aren’t trustworthy.”

Every person who has a justifiable claim has a right to be heard. Again, the claim may later be rejected as false or partially false, but all evidence needs to be weighed before rejecting any outright.

Gossip, innuendo, and rumor is not typically helpful. Anonymous letters are not the greatest. However, I have known many women who have written such letters and were truthful in what they wrote. Of course, the fact that they did not sign them led many to reject the claim. The church leadership should be careful in approaching such communication.

The pastor’s side of the story should be heard as well. He needs to understand the facts that have been gathered or given to the church leadership. One of the worst things that can happen in a meeting is for things to get personal. Sticking to the facts is very important.  I’ll talk more about meeting with the pastor later. But understand that it is important to always gather as much information as possible.

Don’t Read Into The Situation

If you do hear gossip, receive a letter, or have someone approach your leadership about your pastor’s fidelity, treat it as a serious matter.

One of the worst things we can do when an accusation is made (and no fault has been found in the pastor yet) is to think, “You know he has been acting weird lately,” or “He has always hugged the women in the church too long,” or “I never did feel comfortable around him.” You may feel those statements are true, but those statements may have nothing to do with the matter on the table now.

As church leaders, examine the facts as you have them, pray over them and prepare your heart for what decisions may lie ahead. Next time, we will examine meeting with the pastor, his reaction, and his spouse.

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.

Does Your Doctor Ever Get Sick?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in fallenness, pastors, temptation | Posted on 10-09-2014

0

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who is in the pastor restoration business. We were discussing how fallen pastors are thrown to the wayside without being given a chance for restoration by their churches.

temptedYeah, they sinned. They committed adultery. It’s on them. They did it. They should pay the consequences.

But hold on for a second.

We were talking about some of the points I made in my book. In it, I talk about the circumstances that lead up to pastoral failure. In my book, I don’t make excuses for pastors. I interviewed 20 pastors – 11 of them made it into my book. I listed four major factors that led to pastoral failure. Is that an excuse? Nope. Each pastor made the choice to cross the line into adultery. I did.

But there were things that weakened these men, these ministers - and the statistics prove it; there are horrible things in our church culture that are not normative – counter to what the New Testament church should have for our pastors.

So let me turn to the blog post question – does your doctor ever get sick? Mine does. I love my family doctor. He’s always there for me. I can text him, I see him just about every week. As a sports medicine professional, I can count on him being there for the athletes I care for. He’s a champ. He works at least 60 hours a week, has another business on the side, a family to take care of, and of all the friends I have, I can always count on him. For the people I know who read this blog, they know who I’m talking about. And they know he’s a stand up guy.

But guess what? He gets sick. But we don’t ever imagine that our primary care doctor ever gets sick, do we? But he does. Sometimes, he gets sick and he shows up to work. But sometimes, he gets sick and he has to cancel patients so that he won’t spread his illness to others. That’s just the way it is.

I tell you this to let you know that sometimes your pastor gets sick. He sins. Sometimes he is tempted with vice. Sometimes while he is at Wal-Mart, he might look at an attractive woman a little too long. While he’s at home watching Monday Night Football, he might be lusting after the cheerleaders for the Carolina Panthers. There might be moments while he’s at church when a church member catches his eye because his passions aren’t under control. For heavens sake, at night he might be tempted to look at online pornography. Statistics bear it out. Anywhere from 50-80% of pastors have looked at pornography in the last month. It just depends on what study you want to believe.

You think you doctor is sick? Your pastor is sick as well. He is completely and totally human. For some reason, we want to place him on some sort of pedestal and think he is above us. He is not. He is vulnerable.

Sometimes, even he likes to think he is above reproach as well. But he is not. He needs to surround himself with accountability and mentors to keep himself close to Christ.

You may think, “But, but, he’s our pastor! He baptized my little daughter or son!” Listen. He’s as human as you are. Let go of your expectations of your pastor. Just like you need to realize that Christ was genuinely tempted in every way: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Look at that verse for a moment, church people. Jesus was tempted as we are. How are we tempted? Yep. It’s tough, but think about it. He Romantic Momentsdid overcome temptation. But your pastor is tempted just the same. And it is difficult for him. Especially in this age of digital media, internet, and socialization.

What I’m telling you is that your pastor is a human. He is a man who needs constant support and prayer. He needs an accountability group around him loving him and supporting him. There need to be people in the congregation caring for women who need support after a divorce or after a break-up. Everyone in the church needs love. Be aware of the needs in your church. If you neglect one need in your church, it could harm another person in your church.

Please be aware of all of the people in your church. Be loving. Be aware. Be ready to minister to all people. The adversary is ready at the door to destroy us. Be a vigilant church.

Just as your doctor can get sick at any moment, your pastor can fall prey to any spiritual disease at any moment. Please be ready, children of God.

Other helpful articles:

Pastors are People Too” from InTouch Ministries

10 Things About Pastors Every Church Member Need To Know” by Joe McKeever

Pastors are People Too!” by Michael Lukaszewski

An Open Letter to Pastors: Please be Fully Human” by Emily T. Wierenga

____________________________

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

0

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.

__________________

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

0

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

0

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.

Bob Coy Family Divided

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in bob coy, current events, fallenness, gossip, social media | Posted on 30-07-2014

2

bobcoyBob Coy Family Divided – It’s a search term that keeps poking it’s head up on my blog search results. Every day, people find my blog searching for those words. I wrote a blog post about Bob Coy. The best and most balanced blog post I’ve seen is from The Last Hiker’s blog that has over 400 comments. In those comments, many of them are judgmental and angry. The Last Hiker’s blog post is excellent in dealing with the issues surrounding fallen pastor Bob Coy, who was a pastor in Fort Lauderdale and admitted to adultery.

Bob Coy was a national figure and committed adultery. He sinned greatly. He lied for a long time. He hurt many people. It shows that the sin of adultery when committed by a pastor has horrible effects on family, a congregation, a community, and a nation. These are things I have been writing about for five years and shared in my book. There are no excuses for what he did.

I am concerned that for the past two months people have been showing up to my blog searching for “Bob Coy family divided.” Each time I see that, I grimace a little. I understand the pain that people are going through. I hurt people when I committed adultery. But I also think that it’s time for people across this country to understand that there is a responsible Christian response to Bob Coy’s fall. I don’t know what’s going on with Bob Coy and his family. It’s none of my business. And it’s really no one else’s business. It is a matter for his family, church leadership, and God.

One of the problems is that a lot of people want information. That’s normal. They want answers for why he did what he did. I get that. In our age of information, we believe we are entitled to information. But Christians, in this case, we don’t need it. We don’t. Bob Coy and his family need some time. And we need to give it to them. I’ve listed some questions I’ve seen online regarding the Bob Coy situation and responses to them:

Bob Coy sinned. And his sin put us in a position to ask these questions.” Yeah, in a way it did. But for a Christian, there comes a moment where we have to ask, “how much information is enough?” When do questions become gossip? When do our questions become the stuff of reality television and drama? When do we start following the church discipline guidelines of Matthew 18 and Galatians 6 and allow restoration to take place? When do we stop poking around with this man and his family’s life and start minding our own business?

But trust me, right now, what he does not need are people who claim the mantle of Christ acting like paparazzi.”

He was a pastor. A man in the public eye. The people of his church have a right to know.” Here’s a tough one. Do we trust the men and women we have appointed as church leaders to handle the situation, or do we as church members keep poking around for information until we have stripped the bones bare until we are satisfied? What is the purpose of church leadership if not for a time like this? Yes, Bob Coy has sinned greatly. And this is a time for church leadership to step in and take care of the issues. And church members should trust them to help Coy and his family the best they can.

He was a national media figure. He put himself out there for everyone to see. So it’s everyone’s business.” That sounds like the reasoning of people who don’t understand Scripture. When it all comes down to it, this is a matter for Bob Coy, his wife, his family and his God. Is he repentant? I don’t know. Is his family in turmoil? Who knows? But asking questions via Google is not going to help. Prying into his life is not going to help resolve a spiritual situation.

“But the family shared information!” Even if the family shares a limited amount of information, that doesn’t give any Christian the right to pore over it like it’s the National Enquirer. Information shared by a “family friend” should really be considered shaky, at best. If the family wants to report on their progress, let them. And let it be.

Honestly, if you are a Christian and you want to help, pray. I have counseled hundreds of fallen pastors over the past five years. Do you know what makes the biggest difference in the heart of a fallen pastor? A work of God so that he will repent. Not a bunch  of people digging into his personal life to see if there is a rift in his family. Sure, we live in an age where we can poke around and see the particulars of the Kardashian family and their latest beach pictures. But that is not and should not be the norm for Christians who are fighting a spiritual battle for restoration back to Christ.

Please stop searching for gossip, family rumors, church rumors, and the status of Bob Coy on the internet if you are a Christian. It’s shameful. If you are a member of his church, wait on the church leadership. If you aren’t a member of his church, pray for him and his church. Then start making things better for your own pastor and your church.

We are living in a culture that is saturated with reality television. A culture that has to know the intimate details of every individual. We have succumbed to it because we post our own lives on Facebook and other social media each day. Maybe what Bob Coy and his family need are distance, time, healing and prayers from the people of God.

calvary

Understand that when pastors fall, they receive attention from the community regardless of the size. Whether they are a pastor of a megachurch or a small church, they will get a lot of community gossip. The attention is a consequence of their sin and it is deserved. What matters most is the heart of the fallen pastor. Will he repent? Will he choose the path of restoration? Sometimes the pastor will resist restoration and walk in sin for a while. Sometimes he will repent immediately. But either way, the church, according to Galatians 6:1 has a duty to be there to restore him back to Christ.

We are not to dig into the details of his sin and berate him publicly. Our job is to be in prayer for his recovery. Again, he did something that was sinful. But where is Christ in all of this? Where we want Him to be. Waiting on the sinner to repent, and loving him. Just like He would do with any of us.

If he doesn’t repent, then one day he may need help if he does return. His family needs help. But trust me, right now, what he does not need are people who claim the mantle of Christ acting like paparazzi. Those are the people he needs in earnest, forthright prayer for him and his family.

Other helpful articles:

Pastor Bob Coy, The Church, Adultery, Consequences and Grace,” The Last Hiker

What I Should Have Told Bob Coy 29 Years Ago,” by Nate Larkin on Covenant Eyes

__________________

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.

Men Who Smell Like Pigs: Restoring Fallen Pastors

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in fallenness, forgiveness, pastors, reconciliation | Posted on 23-07-2014

2

repentaI’ve been ministering to fallen pastors for over four years now through my book and this blog. It’s been a unique joy and blessing. Recently, I’ve been taking the stance that all churches, members and leaders need to be more involved with taking care of a pastor when he falls from the ministry due to sexual immorality. Even though these men smell like pigs.

Let me explain.

Today, I’m not going to give you reasons why we should because I’ve done that before. I want to share with you one of the most rewarding things that happens when you care for and pursue a fallen, sinful pastor – you get to see and share in his restoration.

And so you’ll know what I mean by restoration – I mean to be restored to Christ. Will a fallen pastor ever be restored to ministry? Can we restore the fallen pastor? That’s a different topic. When a man has fallen from the pulpit and sinned, he needs to focus on a right relationship with Christ first. Because his relationship with Christ went wrong way before his marriage or church relationship ever started failing.

There are two types of fallen pastors. Both guys typically get kicked to the curb by their churches. But the first type has a little bit of hope to get some help by his association or his church.

The first type is the pastor who gets caught red-handed. His sin is discovered and his is approached with it by his wife or leaders of the church. His response is an almost immediate desire to do what is right and repent. He may not have a heart full of repentance right away. He may still have lingering, sinful desires – but you have to remember his adultery went on for a while. But if he shows any signs of wanting to break free, he needs your help.

The first type reminds me of Peter when Christ restored him in John 20. Jesus asked him three times if he loved him and jesusandpetePeter answered three times that he did. “Lord, you know I love you.”

The tricky thing about a newly fallen pastor is that he may think he can fix himself. Any pastor who falls needs a group of people around him to help restore him, work through his sin and toward brokenness. I write about brokenness in my book and on this blog. It is essential that any man who has fallen from the pulpit come to a point where they understand the devastation their sin caused and run back to God. Dr. Hershael York helped me understand this point while I was working on my book.

If a man refuses to be guided by a group of other Christians or be accountable, that’s a huge red flag. I’ll be honest – in my experience and after talking to others who deal with fallen pastors across the country – restoration to Christ and true brokenness takes at least a year and possibly up to 18 months. God takes His time in dealing with the hearts of His people and I’m glad He does. He does it lovingly and patiently. But there does come a moment when he breaks us.

Of all the fallen pastors I’ve talked to who have been restored, most of them remember the day God broke them. They can remember the day their sin became real. It was part of a process. Most of those moments are very personal, but God does work on our hearts.

The second type of fallen pastor is the one hardly any church, association, other pastor, family member or denominational leader wants to deal with. It’s the pastor who commits adultery, won’t listen to anyone, gets a divorce from his wife and is gone. We need to be intentional about restoring fallen pastors. Now, there is typically more story in there that no one will ever hear or want to hear, but the bottom line is this – here is a guy who sinned, got kicked out of church and home, and no one wants to deal with him.

I believe we must reach this man too. I was this man. When these men email me, they have my full, undivided attention. Know why? Because I’ve noticed in this group, there is a trending rate toward self-abuse, depression and self-hatred. When is it okay to push a sinning pastor to the side and let him go?

I can’t do it. I don’t ever condone his sin, but I will forever be his friend. Know why? Because I believe that one day, God can and will do something to radically change his heart to restore the fallen pastor. And when he does, I don’t want that pastor to say, “No one in the church believes in me. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.

sonfatherI hate stretching parables out and making more of them than we’re supposed to, but I’m going to.

Imagine the prodigal son, who has wasted his father’s wealth and now finds himself among the pigs. He stinks like a pig. He is helpless and hopeless. The Bible says that the son “came to himself.” That is what happens to many fallen pastors after a period of weeks, months or years. I’ve seen it. They snap out of it.

Anyway, the pig-smelly son decides to go back to his father’s house and attempt to at least get a job there. But we all know what happens. His father runs to meet him, not welcoming him back as a second class citizen, but as his son. See, the father didn’t embrace him and say, “Boy, where have you been for the past twelve weeks? You smell like pig!” Regardless of where the son had been, or where he had been dwelling, or how he smelled, he was still his son.

Cue the rest of the parable (that never gets preached on) and we find the older brother who is angry. He’s angry because he’s always been there for dad. But dad decided to throw a party because they found the pig-smelling son who ran off and spent money. The older son is indignant. The father says, “Son, you should rejoice because what was once lost is now found.” No, the older brother isn’t having that. He’s angry. He’s always been there. His brother ran off like a little jerk. Now he comes back smelling like a pig and he gets a party.

Point? I love all the fallen pastors who come my way, regardless of how they smell. In fact, I don’t even notice the smell. I know eventually, God is going to grab hold of them and take care of them. Restoration to Christ is really God’s job, I just get to help facilitate that. And it’s an overwhelming joy and honor

But it should be happening in the communities where these men live. And I pray someday it will.

____________________________

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.

Would You Let King David Preach At Your Church?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in church, churches, fallenness, pastors, preaching, restoration | Posted on 21-07-2014

4

delorean

“Quick, Marty, we need a supply minister. Let’s go get King David!”

Good question. Answer it quick. Right now. In your mind.

Yeah, it’s hypothetical. Would you let King David, if he were available right now – to preach one Sunday morning service in your church?

Yes. You would.

If you had hold of a DeLorean equipped with a flux capacitor, you would.

Why? Because he’s King David for crying out loud. Killed Goliath. Fought bears and lions. Was a man after God’s own heart. Heck, he fled when he knew he was the rightful man to be on the throne and was gracious to Saul. He loved his own son Absalom when Absalom wanted him dead. What a guy, right? Out of his lineage came our own Savior, Jesus Christ.

Oh, but wait. David has a mixed history. He had some wives. Some concubines. He committed murder and adultery.

I was talking to someone a while back that gave me some great insight on David. He said, “Despite David’s sin, he was always a man after God’s own heart. People would always judge him for his actions, but God always loved him for who he was.

David had struggle after struggle. Many of those struggles were his own fault. He sinned greatly, like many of the people we cherish in Scripture. Yet God showed them favor. Yet many pastors would allow David behind the pulpit to preach a sermon for one Sunday, wouldn’t we?

I ask that for an important reason. There are a lot of men who have fallen from the ministry. Since I fell almost five years ago, I have spoken to hundreds of them by text, email or phone. I have spoken to their wives, their church members or their families. I have referred them to others for help.

Some of them, like myself, did not reconcile with our first wife for whatever reason. Here’s a question, what wife was David supposed to reconcile with? Don’t hear me making a justification argument for my sin. I sinned. And I’ve made that very clear. Every fallen pastor I’ve dealt with and interviewed in my book takes complete blame for their sin.

But each man either reconciled with their wife or moved on. Even if they didn’t reconcile, they eventually found forgiveness from God and decided to walk a path of holiness from that point forward. The eggs had been broken and scrambled. There was nothing to be done.

Each of these men, like myself, had discovered that God is gracious beyond what we deserve. We don’t deserve to wake up in the morning. We don’t deserve God’s grace.

For the fallen pastor who has been restored, many of them have had a chance to tell their story from the pulpit. They’ve had a chance to preach or talk to a congregation. This isn’t the same as restoring them back to the pastorate – it’s giving them a chance to talk about the grace they’ve been shown and to talk about the grace and mercy of Christ.

The question is, “Would you let a fallen pastor who has been restored preach in your church?”

Since my fall and my restoration, I’ve had grace extended to me by several pastors. They have allowed me to preach. I’m not asking to be restored to the pastorate, but I was given grace to speak at their churches. Let me tell you what I discovered.

First, I found that my preaching was filled with more grace and love than I ever had when I was a pastor. Before my fall, I was more judgmental and harsh than I was after. After I fell, I preached from my heart, but still from the word, but with compassion for the hearts of the people.

Second, I found that people connected with someone who had fallen so far. People in the congregation want their pastor to be of high regard and of high moral standards. That’s the way it should be. When I spoke, I told them of the dangers of sin, the dangers of wandering from God, and my own story. I told them of the importance of holiness and how Christ loves us despite our sin.

What I’m saying is that inviting a restored fallen pastor into your pulpit isn’t much of a danger. In fact, it can be helpful to you and your congregation. Talk to him first, face to face. Find out what he has to say. Hear his story and his journey.

The first time I preached after my fall, I wasn’t sure what to think. But I preached on John 8, the woman caught in adultery. I was very clear about what I had done and about how awful sin is. But I also spoke about the compassion and forgiveness of Christ.

That Sunday, three people responded. One was a woman who had been committing adultery with a man for eight years. She broke it off that week and was baptized by the pastor the following week. The next was a visiting church deacon who confessed he had committed adultery. Finally, another deacon who wanted to talk to me about his adultery. I praise God for that. I had little to do with it.

I had someone say to me, “I love our pastor and I hear what he has to say, but your story touched me because you’ve been through it.

Almost every time I preach, I have people come up to me and say, “I need help. I’ve been where you were and I want help.

Friends, I don’t like the fact that I’ve been through it. But I’ve been forgiven. And I guarantee you that there are men around you that have stories to tell that can help those in your congregation.

Do we really believe that God works all things together for those who love Him? Pastors allow all kinds of people to share their testimonies, but it seems the ones we don’t allow are pastors who have committed adultery. The ones we want to kick off into the shadows and forget.

I’ll tell you this – I speak with fallen pastors every day. God has not forgotten them. They have sinned greatly. But God is not done with them. And their voices, once restored, can help many people in a great way.

Other helpful articles:

How To Prepare When You’re The Pulpit Supply” by Joan Huyser-Honig

Lessons Learned About Pulpit Supply” by Ed Eubanks

____________________________

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.

Dr. Heath Lambert on Preventing Moral Failure

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in counseling, fallenness, heath lambert, interview, pastors, prevention | Posted on 14-07-2014

0

lambertI had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Heath Lambert recently and discussing several topics including temptation, biblical counseling, preventing ministry failure, and lust. Dr. Lambert is the assistant professor of Biblical Counseling at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s also the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. He’s also author/co-author of several books, including “Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace.

Introduction

Dr. Lambert and I began by talking about statistics of fallen ministers and his impression of them:

The statistic I have heard for a long time is that one-fifth or 20% of ministers will leave the ministry due to some form of moral failure. Those empirical numbers are not what matter to me the most. What matters to me the most is when you’re sitting there talking to a man and his wife who have just been devastated from leaving the ministry or talking to a woman who has been involved with a pastor.

So the 20% is a big number but when I have people talking to me, that’s when I feel the real weight of it.

Preventing Ministry Failure

One of the most important topics that we discussed was how to help pastors prevent ministry failure. We discussed this idea for biblical counselors and it is also relevant for anyone in ministry. For that matter, all Christians should be aware of the situations and temptations that we face.

Dr. Lambert discussed two types of prevention. First, he discussed external prevention. Safeguards we can place on our lives to prevent failure. These include having accountability, having an open door policy, and having a right relationship with your wife.

Prevention for ministers and biblical counselors:

External Prevention

Have an office with windows so others can look in

Avoid long-term counseling with the opposite sex

1 Timothy 5 tells us to engage with women in ministry so I do meet and counsel women. I’m a woman’s pastor just as I am a man’s pastor. But it’s important to avoid ongoing counseling with the opposite sex. There’s a difference between ‘I’m going to meet with you a couple of times so I can find out what’s going on’ vs. meeting with a member of the opposite sex in an ongoing counseling relationship.

Don’t meet with just one spouse for marriage counseling

One thing I say to people is, if you’re only meeting with the husband or wife by themselves, it’s not marriage counseling.

Don’t meet with a woman without having another woman nearby

Dr. Lambert has an open door policy. He has a female staff member near the door who is aware of the counseling going opendooron. He recommends in a church setting having a staff member outside the door or having a woman sit in the counseling session with you.

Keep your wife informed

As soon as you start being aware that you’re meeting with a woman and that you’re not telling your wife about it or you’re not telling her about things happening in the meeting, you need to know there’s a problem. I’m not talking about things that are privileged information either. Some things that happen in counseling situations that need to stay confidential. But there may be times when a person you’re counseling texts you or says something that you want to keep from your wife. If that’s happening, there is a problem.

- Listen to your wife

There have been four or five times when my wife has been more aware of situations of trouble that I might have been getting into than I was.” (Dr. Lambert and I agreed to call it women’s intuition). “She has seen things coming before I have. I have learned to listen to her and her wisdom. She is just a better judge of character than I am. She’s been right every time.

Be an open book with your wife

My wife isn’t nosy. My email is just right there. She uses my phone. I’m not doing anything to hide from her. We live life openly and don’t have any secrets. There is one woman I have to make happy in the world and that’s my wife.

Have others you are accountable to

There are four guys I am accountable to. They know everything about me. If they wanted to write a tell-all book about me, they could do it. These are guys I tell every struggle and thought to. Things I don’t even necessarily share with my wife first. I might share with them that I am struggling with lust or dishonesty. They help me to see weak spots and share things with me in the most honest and candid manner.

Make your wife a point of conversation

“I’m not going out of my way to talk about her. I’m leading with my wife in conversation. She’s on my mind. The women that know me and work with me know that there’s no room in my life for them. Which is what they should think.”

Internal Prevention

External prevention is helpful, but for a Christian to avoid temptation and moral failure, it cannot end there. The soul must be on guard and a person’s relationship with Christ must be pursued along with personal holiness.

Dr. Lambert: “The reality is that you can do all those things and still commit adultery. You can put a window in your office door and still commit adultery. You can give up on your commitment to value your wife as soon as you meet a pretty girl in a restaurant out of town. You can create a private email or buy a second cell phone. You can give the appearance of having accountability if you want.

God is honest about the temptation, he’s honest about the fallout, but He doesn’t just talk about the forbidden woman . . . but He also talks about this perfect picture of your wife. That’s an invitation for us to fight, to treasure our wives.

The battle is won or lost at the level of our intentions. What do I intend to do with women? I think about that in a couple of ways. One thing I try to do is urge men to get close to Jesus. Nobody ever committed adultery or got found in some persistent problem with adultery when they were nurturing intimacy and closeness in their walk with Jesus Christ.

One of the things I am praying every single morning is ‘Jesus will you give me you? Will you make me like you? Will you give me passion for you?’ Because when Jesus is filling up your heart, he’s defining the categories of your heart. And he’s defining what there is and is not room for in your heart.

The Allure of Temptation

Dr. Lambert said he prayed for several things every day in his pursuit for Christ including purity and a better relationship with his wife. In doing so, a Christian is insulating themselves from lust but also turning their hearts toward their wives.

In Proverbs 5 and 7, there’s a sense in which the author is very honest about the forbidden woman. She’s very tempting. She’s got an attractive offer for you. Her husband is out of town, he’s not coming back for a month, she’s decorated her house, she’s put some perfume on, and come, let’s take our fill of love. She’s not telling you this is going to be the least thrilling thing you’ve ever done. She’s not saying, “everyone you know is going to find out, your ministry is going to be over.” She’s saying, “you’re going to have the time of your life.”

temptationIn Proverbs 5 and 7, God is very honest about seduction. But God is very honest that if you follow her, you’ll be like an ox led to the slaughter.

God is honest about the temptation, he’s honest about the fallout, but He doesn’t just talk about the forbidden woman, but back in the 20’s of Proverbs 5, He says ‘start thinking about your wife.’ He says, ‘let her breasts satisfy you. Rejoice in her love.’ So He gives you this true picture of this thing to fight against but He also talks about this perfect picture of your wife. That’s an invitation for us to fight, to treasure our wives.

Fighting Temptation By Focusing on Your Wife

You’ll hear some guys say when you’re looking at a woman with lust, ‘bounce your eyes.’ I want to do that, I want to look away, but I also want to bounce my heart. So, I’m trying to cultivate with discipline of bouncing my eyes, ‘no, not that,’ but to do more. And to think about what my wife does that makes me happy. Think about what she does that encourages me. Think about what I would like our life to be like in 30 years.

Another thing I’m doing is looking for opportunities to nurture the affections in my heart for her. So I have on my iPhone a set of songs that I will only listen to if I promise to only think about her. If I am feeling really frustrated with her, rather than just feel frustrated with her, I’ll plug my iPhone into the car and start thinking about my wife. We’re structured so music strikes a chord with our affections. So I’ll just listen to George Strait, “Carried Away,” and start thinking about my wife.

I also have five things about my wife that are awesome that I think about when I’m frustrated with her or if I’m tempted. These are things that are true of her that are true of no one else and they stir my heart.”

A Right Relationship With Other Women

The next thing is that in the 1 Timothy 5 sense it says we are to treat women with all purity. There are two relationships described in Scripture we are to have with women. The first is with our wives as described in Song of Solomon.

The other one is the sisterly relationship. I find that every time you look at a woman, every time you engage with a woman, you are making a choice about what’s going to motivate your looking at her. About what is going to motivate your interacting with her. Is my interaction with you, my conversation with you, my looking at you motivated by lust or some kind of desire to impress you to have this be something other than it is? Or is it motivated by loving you as a talkingsister with all purity?

I don’t have a sister, but I have a daughter. And I have affection for both. But the difference is daylight and dark between the types of affection. So I have a gut check when I have a conversation with another woman, I ask, ‘What’s motivating my looking at you?’ And if I’m aware that I’m motivated by something other than sisterly purity, then I know in that moment to say, ‘Lord, forgive me, give me grace to be motivated by sisterly purity as I engage with this woman.’

Having the Right Intentions

Those motivations are where the battle is won or lost. I’m for windows in the door and all that, they’re all important, but ultimately, if you’re not motivated by sisterly purity but by the lust of the eyes, then all of the windows, and accountability won’t matter.

But if you are motivated by sisterly purity and a woman is in a mind to commit adultery and there is no window in the door, you’re not going to fall in that moment. Why? Because you’ve spent time cultivating the idea, ‘you’re not for me, my wife is, and this wouldn’t honor Jesus.’

For pastors seeking to be educated and stronger in biblical counseling, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has distance and on-site learning classes available. For any church member looking to strengthen their counseling base, The Association of Biblical Counselors has weekend and other programs to train you to be effective in your congregation.

Other helpful links:

Interview with Heath Lambert on ‘Finally Free” by Grant Castleberry

Dr. Heath Lambert’s Testimony

Porn, Pride, and Praise: An Interview with Heath Lambert” by Desiring God

If you have been moved by Dr. Lambert’s words and need help, please take time to purchase his book, “Finally Free: Fighting for Purity With the Power of Grace.”

Special thanks to my friend and mentor, Dr. Hershael York, for making this interview possible.

____________________________

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 Things Christians Can Do When A Pastor Falls

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, church members, fallenness, help, pastors | Posted on 09-07-2014

0

reachingoutWhat should a church member do when a pastor’s sin is uncovered? The pastor’s sin could be anything ranging from adultery to embezzling. I’ve put together a few quick questions someone should ask in reference to a pastor’s sin and their own struggle with the issues.

1. How will I and my family react long term and short term? When a pastor falls or sins and is dismissed, the church member and each family typically goes through a difficult time that is similar to the grief cycle one encounters after losing a loved one. Each family and church member needs to prepare for this struggle and look for support in Christ, their church family and possibly counseling.

2. How will our church as a whole react? How will our church leadership react? The church as a whole will often follow the reaction of the leadership. Leadership needs input from the congregation, so encourage them to handle the situation in a Scriptural manner. Also, share with them the need to ask for help from other churches or church leaders if they feel they are not able to make a clear decision.

“On top of everything, think of this: ‘One day, I may very well fall. How would I want people to care for me?'”

3. How will we as a church react directly to the pastor? In other words, if his sin warrants that he resign, he is still to be treated as a brother in Christ. Some follow up questions might be, “How will our reaction to him impact our church now and years later? Is how we are treating him on a personal level Scriptural? Will it impact future decisions we make?”

4. Regardless of what the church leadership decides, what will I choose to do in relationship to the pastor? Or, how will I choose to treat the fallen pastor? Many people may choose to judge the pastor or cut ties with him personally. But we are all responsible for how we react. How are we to treat those who sin? Even if they disappoint us greatly? Going along with the crowd mentality is easy, but taking a stand for what is right is always difficult. Take time, pray, and study Scripture to make the right decisions.

5. Pray for him. After I fell, I heard through the grapevine that one of my former deacons had trouble praying for me. He said it took him a long time before he was able to think positively enough of me to say a prayer for me. That is absolutely understandable. Do your best. On top of everything, think of this: “One day, I may very well fall. How would I want people to care for me?

____________________________

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.