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Hershael York Interview, Pt. 1: Check Out Pastorwell.com

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Hershael York, interview | Posted on 10-02-2014


I’m reposting this interview I did with my friend Dr. Hershael York because I want to draw your attention to his new webpage, Pastorwell.com. Take a moment to check it out and bookmark it. There is some great stuff there and more to come. And part 2 of this interview can be located by clicking here.

york2Dr. Hershael York is known by many as the preaching professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. By some, he’s known as an outspoken critic for moral and Christian issues. To a few hundred, he’s the pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky, in the midst of paying off their debt and moving to a new facility. By a privileged few, he’s a father, grandfather, husband.

I used to know him as that guy in seminary that “if you take his preaching class, be prepared to have your rear end handed to you.” So I never took his class and I regret it.

After I fell from the ministry, years after my seminary experience, I was encouraged by a friend to call him. I heard that Dr. York was someone who had experience reaching out to fallen pastors with love and compassion. Strangely, that did not mesh with the image I had in my head of him.

I was happy to be proven wrong. When I interviewed him, he was gracious, kind and his wisdom is pasted throughout my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” Better yet, I see him as a spiritual father of sorts now.

“We’re totally comfortable when a dope smoking, meth lab owning guy gets saved and we rejoice in that; but what if a Christian falls into that and returns? Our discomfort sort of negates the book of Galatians. In Galatians, Paul says, ‘What don’t you understand? Now if you began in the Spirit you are not perfected by works!’”

In fact, when my wife and I traveled to Frankfort recently to see and interview him (partly for this blog but mostly because I missed seeing him), the first thing he told me was how proud he was of me. Something I had longed for my own father to say.

Enough of that. I’ve tried to break down the interview the best I can. If you go and talk to Dr. York about anything, you’ll end up with a repository of awesome material that’s hard to replicate on the page. So, I’ve tried to do my best.

Fallen Pastors and Repentance

One of the topics we discussed was fallen pastors and when they repent. A lot of times, the fallen pastor will repent immediately and be restored to Christ, but other times, as in my case, he won’t. Dr. York discussed the issues with a late repenting pastor:

Christians want things to end clean and neat. And they’re uncomfortable when they don’t. What people are uncomfortable with is what everyone wants; we want to see reconciliation with his wife which means they get back together and live happily ever after. But you know what? That’s not always how it works. At the point people wake up and become really broken over their sin – at whatever point that is, then they have to deal with whatever consequences have occurred up to that point.

 “There’s no going back, you can’t roll back time, and so what’s the godly way to deal with this? Have we read our Bible? What repentsabout Abraham and Hagar? There were consequences. We can lament what Abraham did all we want, but we have to deal with it. And I think a lot of Christians miss that at some point and we have to answer the question, ‘How do I honor God now?’”

 That turned him to the message of the Gospel:

“If we really believe the gospel – the gospel takes you where you are. We say we believe the gospel isn’t about ‘try harder and do better’ but it’s about resting in God’s grace. And then we act upset when someone actually does something that demands that.

 “We’re totally comfortable when a dope smoking, meth lab owning guy gets saved and we rejoice in that; but what if a Christian falls into that and returns? Our discomfort sort of negates the book of Galatians. In Galatians, Paul says, ‘What don’t you understand? Now if you began in the Spirit you are not perfected by works!’

 “If true holiness is realizing our complete dependence upon God, then sometimes the Lord has to allow the consequences of our own sin to get us to that level of dependence on Him. If anyone else is uncomfortable with it, then so be it, they’re just going to be uncomfortable with it.”

What is true repentance and brokenness? Dr. York shares a personal story:

On to another important topic and a sensitive one that is often challenged. How do we know if a fallen pastor (or for that matter – anyone) is really repentant or broken over their sin? I told Dr. York I had a church contact me once and tell me that they had a candidate apply for a job who had fallen 25 years prior. When asked about it, he became defensive. I said, “If he was truly repentant and broken over his sin, his response would have been, ‘I committed adultery 25 years ago, I was forgiven by God, but I am more than willing to discuss anything with you, even the consequences of my actions.’”

Dr. York:

“You couldn’t have said it better. Years ago, I counseled an associate minister who had an affair with someone else in the church. He and his wife decided to reconcile immediately and he agreed to undergo counseling and follow a path to repentance, but he was asked to leave. He and his wife came here to our church.  

 conseque“The first time I met with them, the man said to me, ‘I just want to get past this.’ And I thought, here comes the speech. You get the speech for that one. I told him, ‘You’re never going to get past this. There is no getting past this. This is going to be whispered about you wherever you go for the rest of your life. You better get used to that. When your children get older, someone is going to tell them and it’s going to crush them.

 “I laid it out clearly and said, ‘This is what your future looks like. Now listen, you’ve only got one hope here. And this is the only way for you to do this – and that is if when somebody does whisper what you’ve done, someone else says, ‘That is just so hard to believe. Because look how he just loves the Lord and follows Jesus in the genuine wholeness of his life.’ To get there requires brokenness and it is a long hard road.

“His wife had a family reunion once a year and when he went, no one would speak to him. The family even called Dr. York and was furious that he was counseling this man. And he said to them, ‘As long as he is acting like he wants restoration, and he definitely does, then it all remains to be seen and proved over the course of time. It’s judgment on my part whether he is or isn’t repentant.

“The man came back from the reunion and was angry. He said, ‘They treated me horribly.’ I said, ‘Why did they have the opportunity to treat you like this? Who put them in this position? You have to own the fact that you got the choice and they didn’t, so you can’t judge them for the way they react to your sin’ He said, ‘What do I do?’ I said, ‘Sit there quietly and kindly, don’t force anybody to speak and when it comes time to pick up after a meal, do it and help out. Be a willing servant. Just have the attitude of the prodigal son after he came home and say, ‘Just let me be like one of your hired servants and that will be enough for me.

“And if you have that attitude, eventually, you’re going to win. How long? How many years? I don’t know. But eventually, they’re going to say, ‘His repentance is real, this is for real.’ For now, they might say, ‘This is an act.’ Four or five years down the road, they might not say that anymore. The question is, are you willing to do that? And if you’re genuinely broken over that, you will.’

 “It’s been almost ten years for them now and he called him because a church asked him to take on a leadership role. The man turned that down. He told Dr. York, ‘I knew it had the potential to appeal to my superficial nature which got me in trouble in the first place.’ Dr. York said, “He gets it now.”

Dr. York reflected on the reality that the situation could have ended very differently:

“There were moments where it was touch and go. The wife would call and say, ‘I don’t think this is going to work.’ But now, he’s reconwalked in repentance and the Lord has been good. In their case, their marriage was saved and people look at it differently. But let’s say it had ended. 

“Frankly, his walk of repentance would not be significantly different. His life circumstances would be different, but the repentance would still have to be there. He would have to humble himself in front of his family, his children, and her. Repentance is repentance. The consequences you’ve inherited might be different based on what point it hit you. It’s not the consequences you’re answering for when you stand before the Lord. It’s the sin. And I think Christians misunderstand that.”

Stay tuned for part two of this interview. In it we discuss the true cause of ministry failure, pornography, and preventing a fall.


Dr. Hershael York is the Victor and Louise Professor of Christian Preaching and Associate Dean of Ministry and Proclamation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Senior Pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky. You can find out more about his ministries and love for pastors at pastorwell.com. Tanya, his wife of twenty-seven years, is a popular speaker at women’s conferences, and they have two married sons, Michael, 25, and Seth, 23. For a full biography, please click here.


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.

Recent Interview With Tribulation News Radio

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in interview | Posted on 11-06-2013


I had a very pleasant interview recently with Dr. Elizabeth Mattke, host of Tribulation News Radio. We talked about my book, ministry, and the state of the church.

Here’s the link to it. Hope you enjoy it.

I’m available for just about any kind of interview. If you have any interest in the epidemic of pastors falling in our world, please check out my interview page and contact me. I have several of my interviews listed there.



Fallen Pastor Radio Interview With Hagmann & Hagmann

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, gospel, interview | Posted on 09-05-2013


I had a teriffic interview with the Hagmann &  Hagmann Report. We spoke about my book and about the gospel.

The link is here for the full program, but I’m in the second hour, starting around the 65 minute mark. Hope you’ll check it out. You can click the link to listen online or go to iTunes and download the May 7th version of the show.

They were amazing in their allowing me to share my story, the hope of the gospel, and the future of the church.

Fallen Pastor YouTube Interview With George Hemminger

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, interview, ministry, youtube | Posted on 08-05-2013


I was happy to do a quick interview with George Hemminger on YouTube about the alarming rate of ministry failure among pastors. I appreciate him taking the time to talk to me.


Cassandra Parkin,”Lighter Shades of Grey,” Part One

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in authors, interview, Provoketive Magazine | Posted on 10-04-2013


I did an interview with Cassandra Parkin, author of “Lighter Shades of Grey: A (very) Critical Reader’s Guide to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.” The interview is up over at Provoketive Magazine. Whether you read Fifty Shades of Grey or not, this interview is interesting, fun and will give you some insight.

Part two should be up very soon.

Parkin is also an award willing writer and her ebooks on the “Grey” trilogy are very affordable over at Amazon.

Thanks for reading!

“I Survivived A Tornado In A Trailer”: The Stevie Joe Vaught Story

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in God, interview, story | Posted on 22-02-2013


My blog typically focuses on stories about fallen pastors and how they can be helped. Overall, it’s theme is to point to the glory of God. Today, I’d like to start occasionally letting others share their stories of how God helped, rescued, or redeemed them. Today’s story is a unique one and it concerns a friend of mine. I hope you enjoy it.

lytAlmost a year ago on Leap Day, 2012, a series of strong storms ripped through Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In all, there were 15 fatalities and almost $500 million in damages. The scene was horrific as families were left without homes, businesses were destroyed and lives were lost.

It had begun on the evening of the 28th as it swept through the west and destroyed places in Branson, Missouri and leveled Harrisburg, Illinois. The storm wasn’t done as it kept moving eastward.

Stevie Joe Vaught was sitting in his trailer in Greenville, Kentucky on the morning of the 29th and got a call from a friend at 7:30 in the morning telling him that tornado warnings were popping up in the area. In the friendly community of Greenville, people take care of each other like that. Even when sirens are going off, neighbors tend to make calls to friends and family.

Stevie Joe said to himself, “Okay, I’d better watch the weather.” He did. He kept looking out at the ominous clouds outside as they passed, but nothing serious seemed to be materializing. He knew that if something did, he’d have time to go a few yards away to his sister’s house and take shelter in the basement.

At 8:45, the warnings were cancelled and he said, “they said everything was all clear. So I turned on Sportscenter and laid on the couch.

But everything was not all clear. A year later, he can describe the details as if they happened yesterday. He can do it because he dreams about them almost every night:

About five minutes later I heard the scariest train you ever heard in your life. So I jumped up and looked out lyt2the window and there was just all kinds of debris outside spinning around and I thought, “Oh no.”

I took two steps, I was going to pick up my dogs so we could get in the closet and I took that second step and my trailer just lifted off the ground and just started rolling. I was inside it for about 40 or 50 yards.

I was up in the air.

Right before I got to where I ended up at, while I was spinning, it was like a warm blanket wrapped around me and held me tight. And I now know it was the good Lord wrapping me up and He sat me down outside on the ground right beside my stove.

I sat leaned up against it and I watched the rest of my trailer go about another 30 yards, what was left of it, and hit this big tree. When it hit this tree, what was left of it just exploded. Then it just picked up the frame of my trailer up, laid it down beside the tree and it was gone.

 It felt like it took two hours, but I know it wasn’t in the air probably two seconds.

His first thought was, “Are my dogs okay?” They were. Dizzy and confused, he stood up and started yelling, walking towards his sister’s house. Everything was in shambles. The house next door had some damage and his sister’s house had significant damage.

The news crews showed up. People who knew Stevie Joe and the kindhearted guy he is were touched by the interview. It was aired on CNN and even those who didn’t know him were touched by his emotion.

He was overwhelmed with the love shown to him by the community, churches and people he didn’t even know. “It just showed me how good a community I actually lived in.”

I asked him what life was like for the next few weeks:

I was just in shock. I didn’t have anything. I lost everything. Spiritually, I got stronger because I knew why I was alive was because of the Lord.

How did people react to his saying that it was God who saved him?

Some of them didn’t believe it or didn’t believe that’s what I felt or what I saw. Some of them said God had something planned for me and that’s why He kept me alive. And even some of the ones who said they believed me you could just see it in their eyes that they were doubtful. But I know what happened and that’s all that matters.

Why did he think some people, even Christians, had such a hard time believing it was God who delivered him?

Why do you think people have such a hard time believing it? They have doubt in their beliefs, whether God really exists or not, whether He’s really out there. To me, I know He is. He proved it to me that day.

lyt3I would say they have trouble believing that He exists because of things that happen in their lives. They might say, “Why would he let something like that happen to me?” or they just don’t believe in a greater being.

I had to ask, “You know you’re not supposed to survive a tornado in a trailer. So you’ve obviously thought, ‘Why me?’ Which is a strange question. Usually, we’re asking the opposite question when something bad happens to us. But you’re asking, ‘Why me?’ when you survived a serious event. Do you have an answer?

No, none whatsoever. I guess he’ll show it to me when he gets ready. The only thing I know right now is that I’m telling people my story. Hopefully I’m telling them in a way that they can believe it. I’m just trying to spread His word. Other than that, I don’t know what He’s got planned.

I asked him one final question: What has changed about you?

Not much has changed about me. God’s still the same, maybe I just see Him differently.

A great answer, I thought as we wrapped up our talk. Stevie Joe is still going through some serious PTSD, I think. He dreams about the tornado frequently. In some of those dreams, he sees his father who passed on a year before the tornado hit with him. He says his dad is right there with him saying, “You’re going to be alright Son. You’re going to be alright.

The events that he went through are undeniable. He survived an amazing event and has chosen to give God the glory for his survival. He believes God has a purpose for him and most certainly, God does. More importantly, Stevie Joe Vaught sees God differently, and that may be the most important lesson learned.

Please keep Stevie Joe in your prayers. He’s always been a good friend to me at all times and is one of those people who would give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it. And thanks be to our God who protected Stevie Joe in such a fragile moment.