This past June, messengers from the Southern Baptist Convention met in Texas on the heels of their own #metoo scandal
to hammer out their annual resolutions
. Typically, these annual resolutions mirror events in the news or society. Not surprisingly, the first resolution was on “The Dignity and Worth of Women.” The second resolution had to do with abuse.
The third resolution is where I’d like to take a moment to reflect. It had to do with “The Holiness and Integrity of Ministry Leaders.”
Let’s begin with a definition of what these resolutions are designed to do. By their own definition, “a resolution is not used to direct an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention to specific action other than to communicate the opinion or concern expressed.”
In other words, when the messengers gather, these are things that are important to notice or show an opinion about and as one voice they do that. They aren’t asking any church or SBC entity to specifically take an action regarding it, it is the opinion of the messengers gathered that year.
So, for instance, when the SBC made a resolution that people shouldn’t be lynching in 1933
, they meant it. They used serious language to let their churches know that their members should not be engaged in that kind of behavior. Ever. They also meant it in 1934, 1935, and 1936. And they were extremely overjoyed in 1939 when only six lives had been lost to lynching. It’s right there in the resolution.
I’m being a bit sardonic to make a serious point. Resolutions sound great on the floor at the convention and when it’s over we can all pat ourselves on the back. But unless we put them to use what good are they?
Back to this year’s resolution on ministry integrity. It’s really well written and covers all the bases. Ministers should be pure and held to a higher standard. They are to be examples to the church and community. There are horrible consequences for those who fall and for those caught in the wake of ministry failure. We should never try and hide it or justify moral failure.
The resolution goes further. That ministry leaders should seek to prevent moral failure. When a leader falls a Galatians 6:1 discipline should be sought out.
In fact, let me quote the resolution: “That we appeal to Matthew 18:6-17 in exhorting churches to exercise appropriate redemptive church discipline for addressing the sin of ministry leaders, seeking to extend restorative grace (Galatians 6:1), knowing that we are all equally susceptible to the pull of sin (1 Corinthians 10:12).”
That’s awesome. However, a resolution isn’t going to change a whole lot unless the hearts of the people are transformed . Each week I talk to people who have been affected by the fall of a pastor. It takes so many things to change this tide.
It takes prevention. We have to surround our ministers with preventative care, love, and resources before they stumble. I’ve blogged and written extensively in my books about this
After the fall of a pastor, he needs to be restored back to a right relationship to Christ, his family, and to other believers. When a minister fails, the church must be loved and healed correctly as well through this difficult time.
I blogged about this very issue after a previous convention with some solid tips for the SBC that would help them in this process. But one little program here or there won’t fix it. It takes a change of mind set.
We will know true change has happened when pastors fall and the immediate response won’t be “fire him” it will be, “if he’s repentant, how can we love him in a Galatians 6:1 way, and what does that look like?”
Like the messengers to this year’s SBC, I want to see that happen. I just don’t want to see more resolutions before it does.