Featured Post

Repentance, Isolation & My Best Friend

I’ve had a lot of best friends in my life. You’re probably the same way. I remember Todd Winesburg at Oakland Heights Elementary School. We did everything together. We had all kinds of fun, playing imaginary games, hanging out, being kids. Then as time went on, I made new friends. There was...

Read More

Fallen Pastors and Family Reactions

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in fallenness, family, forgiveness, Hershael York, Uncategorized | Posted on 08-10-2013

1

Over the past four years as I’ve ministered to fallen pastors like myself, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to how different familyfamilies have reacted to their fall from ministry. For the most part, it has been heartbreaking. I detail a lot of it in my book, but since then, I’ve heard much worse stories.

When a pastor falls, the easiest word to use is disappointment. There the pastor stood in his pulpit, after years of training and ministry, only to succumb to sexual temptation. Questions immediately arise, “Was he always like this? Has he done it before? Was he a sham all along?”

To the pastor’s immediate family – father, mother, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles – the questions are very difficult. These are the people who have known him the longest. They saw him grow up, do stupid things in his childhood, saw his conversion, attended his ordination, then witnessed his fall from ministry.

Their disappointment can hit even harder than it does to a church member.

I could tell you so many stories of the parents and siblings of fallen pastors who have chosen to break off all contact with a fallen pastor. Their disappointment or anger has made them want to not speak to him again. It’s absolutely understandable and a consequence of his adultery. Why? Because what they saw in him was promise. The promise of ministry and doing good for God and others.

Not to mention in-laws. People whose daughters were joined to these men of ministry and the hope of seeing a husband/wife ministry team doing good for the kingdom – with kids involved – only to see one man seemingly destroy it all with one selfish act.

sadmanI’m not going to get into what causes pastoral failure. I’ve blogged and written about it plenty. That’s not the point of this blog.

I do want to note that family disappointment in a  fallen pastor is very real. And it does hurt. And it is a thing that is very difficult to get over and forgive.

I committed adultery on the heels of the death of both of my parents in separate accidents and on the crisis of another family issue. That is not an excuse for my sin. Far from it. In fact, it probably made things much worse.

It is a warning that pastors who are dealing with grief need to be careful. Very careful.

In the midst of that, I began to realize that I had gravely disappointed many family members. People who had expected much from me. And they should have. I was called by God to do a specific job. I had disappointed a congregation and other pastors and friends. But the disappointment I felt my family knew was bearing down on me.

When I talked to other fallen pastors in the early stages, they told me horror stories about how their mothers and fathers would refuse to speak to them for years after their fall. Their brothers and sisters were so disappointed, they cut off all contact with them.

Here’s where I will get real. I was in such a mode of justification over my sin, I didn’t think anyone had the right to have that attitude. I felt that people should be reaching out to me with the love of Christ. Little did I know, my heart was not right and I had no repentance whatsoever. It took me a full two years for God to break my heart and show me how arrogant I was being.

Worse yet, I wrote a self-justifying letter to my congregation about my feelings. It went over like a ton of bricks. Why? Because there was no humility in it. I had not found true repentance. I was justifying my sin.

Yesterday, I got to meet up with two of my favorite people. Dr. Hershael York and my sister, Mary Ann. I was reminded repent5of two things that I have learned in my journey. Dr. York has been a spiritual father to me and while interviewing him for my book, he said, “Your repentance has to be more notorious than your sin.

In other words, no matter what you have done, no matter what path you have chosen, no matter where you are now, you have a choice to move forward and follow Christ at this moment. He was right. I haven’t always made the right decisions since then, but I hope that I’ve done well in my choices.

Then we come to my sister. I love her so much. When she moved away to college while I was in high school, I felt like my best friend had left. I chose my college based on the fact that it was closest to her. She was always my best friend growing up.

She got married to a wonderful guy. We’ve had our issues over the years, some good and some bad. But we’ve always been able to keep up a good relationship. We bonded more when Dad and Mom died. Then came my adultery. To be honest, she and her husband were the only ones who two months before I got caught asked me if I was having an affair.

When I got caught, I dreaded calling her. For the few months after, I knew she was disappointed. I knew she didn’t know exactly what to do. I knew it hurt her.

Allison and I got home tonight after having lunch with my sister and her husband. I was just sitting on the couch staring at the wall and Allison said, “What are you thinking about?”

I said, “My sister.”

She said, “What about?”

brosis I said, “I talk to a lot of fallen pastors who don’t have any contact with their siblings at all. Or even with their parents. But the family I care about still loves me. My sister must have had to go through a horrible time trying to reconcile my adultery in her mind. I know that she and her husband had to think about it and talk about it many times.

But you know what? She loves me. She loves us. She doesn’t condone my sin, but she’s there for me. It shows me that she loves me for who I am. And I can’t ask for a better sister.” I shed a few tears at that moment.

Then, I texted my sister something and she called right away and told her all of that. Know what my sister said? “You’re my brother. And I’ll always love you no matter what.”

Friends, that’s the love of Christ if I’ve ever seen it. I love my sister. And I love my family for loving me like I am. Thanks be to God for all of them.

______________________________

Are you a fallen pastor, burned out pastor, pastor on the brink or a church that has gone through a tough time? You might start out by reading, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.” There are a lot of things in there that will help pastors prevent ministry failure and a lot of things to help pastors after they fall. There are also helps for churches whose pastors have fallen.

Need more help than that? Feel free to contact the author of this blog and the book, Ray Carroll. He’d love to talk to you. Anything you say will be kept confidential.

Men Who Smell Like Pigs: Restoring a Fallen Pastor

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, brokenness, churches, counseling, divorce, fallenness, forgiveness, Hershael York, ministry, pastoring, pastors, repentance, Uncategorized | Posted on 01-07-2013

2

repentaI’ve been ministering to fallen pastors for over three 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.

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? 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. 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. 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.

Radio Interview & Welcome!

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 26-05-2013

0

I have a radio interview in about 10 minutes (sorry for the late notice) on Tribulation News with Dr. Elizabeth Mattke. Listen to it online by setting your url to this page: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/tribulation-news/2013/05/26/special-guest-ray-carroll.

Also, for those of you who are listening, thank you for visiting the site. Take time to look around and check out the links above, read older posts or check out my book.

Thanks again!

New to the Site?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-05-2013

0

Welcome to fallenpastor.com! Thanks for stopping by.

If you’re new here and need help for yourself or your church, check out the Help! page.

If you would like to contact me directly, try the contact page.

If you would like to have me come speak at  your church or gathering, try this page.

If you’re looking for my book, it’s available at Amazon on the Kindle or in paperback.

I’ve got a lot of blog posts about a ton of topics. Feel free to scroll around or search for a post.

My Wife’s New Post: Does Someone Like Me Deserve to Be Happy?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Allison, blog, Uncategorized | Posted on 07-05-2013

0

Check out Allison’s new post on her blog: “Does Someone Like Me Deserve To Be Happy?”

Great insight. And I’m proud of the things she’s doing over there. She’s been able to help a lot of people. Click on over if you have a free minute.

What Does God’s Forgiveness Feel Like?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in forgiveness, God, grace, repentance, restoration, Uncategorized | Posted on 30-04-2013

0

I had an interesting text conversation with a fallen pastor recently. He fell in the ministry some time ago and is still dealing with a lot of issues. He still has a lot of guilt over his actions. I was sharing with him about the forgiveness of God and he was telling me he has prayed for forgiveness many times.

forgiveHe then asked me a question I had never considered: “What does God’s forgiveness feel like? What does it feel like to be forgiven?

I had to consider that for a moment. His question cut through so many different layers of me that it really confused me for a moment.

The first layer it hit was my hardened seminary layer. My knee-jerk reaction was, “Forgiveness, in a theological sense, doesn’t feel like anything.” You have to understand my background to get that. I was raised listening to some staunch biblical teaching. It was solid, but there wasn’t a lot of grace in it. Feelings and emotion were acceptable, but only in a black and white world.

But I had to reject that. The whole purpose of my ministry here is that people need forgiveness. In the case of many fallen pastors who have been humbled, they are seeking forgiveness. They are thirsty for it. And when it is finally realized, it feels like nothing else.

The second layer the question hit was the world of the modern church in which we live. It’s not true everywhere, but the modern church is a place that is often devoid of forgiveness. When a church leader, pastor, or member sins, many times, there is often no seeking after restoration for that person in regards to Galatians 6:1.

A local pastor and I had lunch recently and he wanted to clarify with me what I meant about restoration. He was exactly right. The church should seek to reconcile with those who sin. I often use the terms interchangeably. Every church should seek out the fallen Christian actively, to restore them to the path to holiness.

Restoration to active ministry is a different story. I have my own convictions about that as did the pastor I had lunch forgiveness1with.

But reconciling one another to fellowship is non-negotiable. But too often, we are quick to throw sinning members and leaders overboard when they commit great sins by isolating them, gossiping about them, or sending them away after they sin. Those who sin may not feel any kind of forgiveness for a while. The lack of reconciliation/restoration by the church or attempt to do so may actually hamper it.

Don’t get me wrong – when someone sins, it is their fault. They bear the responsibility before God. But Scripture is clear that when one among us sins, we are to chase after them. If they are unwilling to listen, then that is to be taken into consideration as well.

The final layer his question hit was the essence of his question – “what does God’s forgiveness feel like?

I can tell you what it felt like for me. After months and months of running from God and justifying myself, He humbled me. I cast myself before Him and confessed my sin. I was overwhelmed by His presence and His grace like I had never been before.

It was not merely a theological process. It was an amazing and overpowering feeling of being free of the sin that had been upon me. At first, it hurt. It hurt because I had realized as David did in Psalm 51 that ultimately, I had sinned against God and God alone. My sin had been poured out upon Christ at Calvary. The pain that I felt in my confession was difficult, but necessary.

But that emotion was quickly followed by a sweeping away of my pain and a sudden realization of God’s grace toward me. I was undeserving of it, but in total need of it. He was under no compulsion to grant it to me, but He did. And He loved me. Even a pitiful sinner like me.

forgive2What did it feel like? Like the greatest thing ever. Like a man who had been starving who had just been invited to the banquet table. Like a man who had gone without water for weeks who had just been allowed to drink from a crystal clear stream that would never end.

I won’t lie to you either. There are days I struggle with guilt from the past. Where my old sin likes to creep up and say, “Hey, you’re still worthless. You’re still a fallen pastor who everyone hates.” There are moments when I listen to that voice in my head and it brings me down. There are days when someone will say, “You never really repented. You are still in your sin.

But Christ is there to remind me that I am His, that the sin I committed is gone. And because of Him, I have new life. And there is no one left to condemn me.

____________________________

Ray Carroll is author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.”

Do Christians Who Commit Suicide Go To Heaven?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-04-2013

2

cxsuicRecent events have brought this question to the forefront again. It’s a question that, as a pastor, I was asked pretty frequently. The fact that this question is on the minds of our people should let all of us – pastors, concerned members, church leaders – know that it needs to be addressed and that a clear answer is needed.

I’m going to give an answer that I feel strongly about. But it’s not enough to feel strongly about it, it has to be connected to Scripture.

Let me start with this – I know that many people feel that Christians who commit suicide do end up eternally punished by God. Without mentioning denominations or religions, they have a reason they feel that way. Their arguments are their arguments. It usually has something to do with the person committing a very serious sin without repentance or confession or chance at confession.

The problem is that there is no direct reference to suicide and the fate of Christians who commit it.

So, here’s my humble position. It comes to you from a man who believes in Sovereign grace, a man who was forgiven by God of adultery, a man who was rescued by God from the depths of sin and understands what mercy and grace are.

I also want to say that this topic should always be approached with love and gentleness. Listen, if you are of the belief that Christians who commit suicide spend eternity separated from God and someone who just lost a loved one to suicide asks you about it – do us all a favor and just show some love, grace and common sense. I’m not telling you to tell them what they want to hear. But there is grace to be had in a kind response of, “We can always trust God to do what is right.” And that answer includes, “Even when my theology is wrong.”

I like to anchor my argument in John 10:27-30, where Jesus is speaking of His followers: “My sheep hear my voice, and I sheepknow them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

When we belong to Christ, we are His. He takes us into His hand, we do not perish and we also belong in the hand of the Father. I’m not even going to address those who want to say, “Does that mean we can sin however much we want after we are saved?” No. Of course not.

There are Christians who sin. I did. I fell. There are a lot of Christians who sin but God does not give up on us. He didn’t give up on the believers in Scripture who fell. The heroes we find in the Old and New Testament who sinned were covered by Christ. God picks us up. He loves us in spite of our sin.

I suppose the opposing argument is, “If we can’t repent, then we die in our sins.” No dice on that one, friend. I suppose if while I was living in adultery without repentance, I would have died in my sin. I would guess that most of us could be caught in some form of sin during the day and that it is unrepentant.

Christ died to justify us. He stood in our place. For all of our sin. Oh, but not for suicide, right? Not for an unconfessed sin we had at the moment of our death. I don’t accept that.

He died so that we didn’t have to live under such judgment. We are to live a holy life, absolutely. But if suicide is the one thing that can do us in, even after we are secure in Christ, then why did He die? What was the cross for? Did He die for our sin or not?

Yes, He covered the sins of Christians once and for all.

It is a tragic thing that some believers get to a point, whether because of depression, mental illness, or circumstance, that they feel suicide is the only way out. But it is not the end of their life.

If you know someone who is suffering, thinking about suicide, contemplating it, giving away their possessions, showing strange or seriously depressive behavior, chase after them. Get them help. Ask for help. Prayer is awesome. Professional help and asking others for intervention is tremendous and necessary.

_________________

Further helps:

Dealing With Suicidal Thoughts & Feelings

How To Help Someone Who Is Suicidal

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Help For Teens – My Friend Is Talking About Suicide

One quick note about Judas – I agree with the majority of commentators that he never was a true follower of Christ. He never bought into Jesus as Messiah and he was the betrayer. Therefore, his demise and ultimate separation is not evidence for everyone who commits suicide.

Fallen Pastors Can Be Restored, Part 2

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 25-01-2013

0

Whether you are an active minister, fallen pastor, church member, or church leader, I really encourage you to check out my series on the restoration of fallen pastors. It’s a summary of my own fall and God’s restoring grace.

So please head on over to Provoketive Magazine and check it out.

 

Radio Interview: 9/22, 2:30 CST

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, Uncategorized | Posted on 19-09-2012

0

I’m scheduled to do a radio interview with The Drew Marshall this Saturday. It’s the largest listened show in Canada on spiritual topics.

Im pretty sure you can listen live or if you can’t, they archive the show. The link is here.

Pray things go well and people are ministered to. At least pray I don’t make too much of a fool of myself.

God bless and thanks.

 

Lance Armstrong: When To Cut A Hero Loose

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-08-2012

0

Just  had an article published over at Provoketive.com called, “Lance Armstrong: When To Cut A Hero Loose.”

Here’s an excerpt:

After their races are won, after they’ve scored touchdowns for us, after they’ve served in office, after they’ve preached – and then they get caught in a transgression, are they no longer our heroes once we’ve seen their dark side? Not usually. Once we’ve seen that chink in their armor, we are quick to dismiss them, doubt their entire career and cast them aside quickly.

And hey, it’s double post Friday. Check out my post from earlier in the day. As always, thanks for reading.