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This Ministry, Humility, and Pride

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in blog, daughters, ministry | Posted on 06-08-2014

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The other night, my oldest daughter asked me a question I have asked myself a thousand times before. I had asked her to make a Facebook

page for my ministry, which I should have done a long time ago. A few hours later, her teenage mind had been reeling and her kind honesty wanted to know the answer to a very important question.

She has seen me look at the numbers of people who view my blog. She has seen me look at my Amazon numbers and she knows I haven’t made a dime on my book yet. She knows I get several emails a week from people who need help. But she still had a question. And I appreciated it because it was a question that was in the back of my mind. And I’m always thankful when my kids can be honest with me.

Daddy,” she asked. “I don’t want to be a jerk when I ask you this. And I don’t want this to be a jerky question.” She was sincere. It was about midnight. We were the only ones up. The television was on but there was no sound coming from it. She had set up the Facebook page about five hours before.

In the past five years, she had a front row seat for everything. She was just a child when I had committed adultery and she was the first one to forgive me for my awful sin. She had always loved me – why? Because I was her daddy. She saw me and her mother divorce. She had moved a few times within her community, watched me change, watched me go from a man who was bitter then become repentant then share with her how important it was to rest in the grace of Christ. She had seen me write a book about fallen pastors and form a blog to help those who needed a voice.

Over the years, she had heard me tell of men, women, and church leaders who needed help and had come to me for help. That everyone in this world was broken. That all of us were just a bunch of broken people who desperately needy people who needed Jesus. And in the forefront of those people, I needed Jesus the most.

But the other night, she asked me something that I had been wondering for a few years.

Daddy, what percentage of this ministry is you helping people and you needing to be popular or needing to be noticed?” she asked.

I needed someone to ask me that. I really did. And I needed to feel what it felt to be asked that. Because if there was any twinge of anger or hurt, then I had a problem. If there was any despair or guilt, then I knew I needed to get help.

For a moment in my mind, I reflected back to my pastoral days. I thought about how much I needed to please people. I’ve written about it so many times on this blog. Numbers were so important to me back then. There were days when 1oo people would show up to that community church and I would feel so happy. Then we would have an August vacation day and we would have 20 people and I would feel do disheartened. I felt like I was doing something wrong.

My response would be to start writing letters or to call people. To reach out and find out if I had done something to offend people. I thought that the church ministry had something to do with me. And that’s where I had failed. I thought church was about me. But it wasn’t. How foolish I was.

So when Abigail asked me that question, I already knew the answer. Because God is always present in giving me the answer.

Abigail,” I said. “To be honest, there are days in which my wicked heart is prideful in the numbers. My sinful heart is overjoyed with the number of people who view my blog. But those days aren’t very often.”

menabigail

Me and Abigail

Because this ministry isn’t about promoting me. It never has been. Sure, there are days when I get excited that I’ve sold a few books or a few extra people have looked at my blog, but that’s not what this is about.

I get excited when I get three emails a week from people who need help and reach out to me. But I know that I’m only reaching about five percent of the fallen pastors or people who have been affected by a fall who are out there. There are hundreds or thousands of people out there who need help and I haven’t been able to reach them. I hope they’ve found some other ministry. But I’m here to reach the ones I can.

When I promote my blog through Twitter, Facebook or other social media, I’m doing it so more people can find me. And when a church, fallen pastor, a woman who has been involved with a pastor, or anyone else can find me finds my blog, I’m overjoyed. Many of those people simply read my blog and find comfort. Some of them just email me and say ‘Thanks for a blog post, it really helped me.’ And that’s all I get. But that’s the ministry I’m called to.

I did a lot of great things when I was a pastor, but now I feel like I’m doing more effective ministry now than I ever did before. I’m reaching across continents and across the nation to help people. Abigail, you’ve heard me talk to fallen pastors, their wives, their churches, and the women they’ve been involved with. I’ve wept with them. I hurt with them.

The greatest joy I feel is when I connect with them and they say, ‘No one has understood me like you understand me.‘”

She smiled at me. Then she said, “You’re right. You’re doing a good thing to help a lot of people.

I said, “You know what really keeps me humble? What God has pride-proofed in to this? What can I really brag about this? What can I say? That I’m the greatest fallen pastor in the world? That I’m here because I committed adultery and I’m here to help people? Who’s going to ever give me an award for that? God has placed me in a position where I can never brag or get the big head. I’m always going to be the man who fell from ministry. I’m always going to be the pastor who fell. The humble pastor who is here to wash the feet of other men who need help.

That’s what is most important to me. To help the men and women across the world in ministry who are fallen who need help when no one else will help them. I’m the least helping the least.”

That made my daughter smile. And in that moment, I think I could help her understand what ministry is really all about.

Other helpful articles:

I Am a Former Pastor

3 Word to Encourage Fallen Pastors: Ron Edmonson

Thoughts on a Fallen Pastor: John Gunter

__________________

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.

Fallen Pastor Facebook & Book Giveaway

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in book, facebook | Posted on 04-08-2014

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I finally got around to making a Facebook page for Fallen Pastor and my book. Actually, my lovely daughter Abigail did all the heavy lifting. Check out the Facebook page fblikehere.

To show my appreciation for your support, I’m going to give away a free copy of “Fallen Pastor” to one of the first 150 people  who “Like” the Facebook page. So thanks to those of you who are loyal readers and supporters and thanks to those of you who are reading my blog for the first time.

I pray that this ministry continues to help those who need it. And I hope it will be shared with new people each day who find themselves in difficult circumstances. God bless all of you.

__________________

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 I Would Change About The Way I Pastored

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in pastoring, preaching | Posted on 01-08-2014

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psIt’s been almost five years since I fell from the ministry. I don’t spend a lot of free time these days thinking about my days as  pastor. I have the occasional conversation with former church members in whom I can confide. When I do, it helps me see things from a different angle.

Surely, the sin I committed, followed by the humbling circumstances and my eventual turning back to Christ made me a different person. If I could go back in time and do it again, there would be a few things that I would change about myself.

1. I would resist the urge to always be right.

I know for a fact that this isn’t just unique to me. It’s good to be right, don’t get me wrong. Pastors preach the Word of God, the truth of Scripture. But I think there may be moments when we preach that we get confused and believe that just because we’re preaching God’s truth, it means that it’s our truth. If I can say it differently, it’s almost like we trap ourselves in a protective bubble where we think that standing behind a pulpit gives us freedom to say what we want and believe we are right. We can win any argument “just because we’re the pastor” or “because I have a seminary degree.” We may not phrase it that way, but that subtle pride does sneak in from time to time and it needs to be beaten down with a big, ugly stick.

2. I would make sure to mix in more of the compassion and grace of Christ in my preaching.

I preached as an unabashed Calvinist. That doesn’t mean I never preached on the saving grace of Christ. I did. One of my seminary professors said, “If the gospel isn’t present in your sermon each week, you’ve failed.” I took that to heart. But there were times when I was so caught up in the depravity of man and I punched that card so many times, I wonder if I properly balanced it with the Savior. On this side of my life, I’ve seen the compassion and love Christ has for outcasts. He didn’t approach sinners with their depravity, he went to where they were and spoke truth and love to them. There is a time to share sinful nature. But there is always time to let people know how amazing, deep, and fervent the love of Christ really is.

3. I would make time to really, really listen more.

I did visit shut-ins, make hospital visits, phone calls, perform funerals, console the grieving, counsel, etc. Like most memberppastors, those were things that were expected. That’s not what I’m talking about. What about the people we see each Sunday who you ask, “How are you?” And each Sunday they say, “Doing great!” What if they aren’t? What if some of those people, those who are working two jobs to make ends meet and can barely stay awake in church, those youth who look sad on occasion, those older members you see who look lost and sad once in a while – what if we went out of our way to just engage them for a moment. Don’t talk, but just listen. If they don’t want to talk right then, they know you care. And it may open up a chance for them to come to you later.

4. I would spend less time worrying about things that I had no control over.

There are a lot of things pastors can’t control, but we spend a lot of time preaching about them. Gossip, giving, committee meetings, people who don’t like us, etc. We try and pray about it, we put it in God’s hands, but a day later, we’re still worrying about little conflicts here and there. Somewhere in the black and white of Scripture it says, “remember your calling.Our calling isn’t to get all anxious and worked up about things we can’t control. Jesus told us not to worry or get anxious. Being anxious doesn’t do any good because most of this world is out of our control anyway. The best we can do is gauge our reaction to the events in front of us. It’s a very hard thing to do as a pastor, but I think I’ve learned to do a better job.

5. Demonstrate the love of Christ, not my own bitterness.

loveofxSo many times I would hear of sin in the church. I would get angry and want to do something about it. I’d fret, worry and react. Church discipline has its place when it’s done for restoration. But my heart wasn’t balanced right. I was out to remove cancers, not to heal hearts. Christ showed compassion for sinners. When they didn’t have another friend in the world, he chose to stand by them. He chose understanding over judgment. And later, he would give his life so that they might be free from their sin.

Interestingly, I would not even venture to change anything about the church. If change is to happen, it has to start with the man in the pulpit. Christ changed this world. How? Because of who he was. And with Christ in us, we can also make changes. Attempting to change people through guilt, anger, lashing out, or other means is useless. Changing ourselves by allowing Christ to work in us is how the church will be transformed.

I’m thankful for the years I got to spend as a pastor. I do miss preaching to a great degree. I’m told when I preach now that I’m a totally different person, and I choose to take that as a compliment. Falling and failing into a great pit is a great way to be humbled, especially when it’s your own fault. But we can always know that Christ will be there to drag us out of it.

I’m thankful for the man God has made me into today. He’s not done with me and I’m not perfect by a long shot. I just pray that I may be able to help those who were in my situation before they reach a crisis point. I pray that all of us, pastor or church member or nominal Christian would be able to reflect upon ourselves in the light of Christ and follow him and let him show us what he sees in us.

__________________

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

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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

Boy Coy’s former church, Calvary Chapel

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.

3 Ways a Pastor Can Avoid Being Judgmental

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in judgmental, pastors | Posted on 28-07-2014

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When I was researching for my book, I found a common characteristic in a lot of pastors who had fallen from the ministry. Many of them had a twinge of judgmentalism. Some of them (like me) just thought they were being biblical and saw things as black and white all the time. Most of them did not realize that there was a difference in understanding the truth of Scripture and applying it with love and compassion.

In the years since my fall, I’ve had time to talk to a lot of fallen pastors and I keep in touch with guys who are still doing the work of pastor. lawnI’d like to offer 3 quick tips on how to avoid being too judgmental.

Don’t be the expert about other people’s lawns. Once in a while, I get behind the owner of a local landscaping service while he drives home. He doesn’t watch the road much. Instead, he looks at other people’s lawns and shakes his head in pity a lot. One of the traps pastors can fall into is becoming too concerned about how other pastors are doing at their respective churches.  Some guys can have a tendency to bash another pastor’s work when things aren’t going well at his own church. This just causes divisiveness and bitterness. We really need to be concerned about our own lawns.

Don’t launch scud missile sermons. I heard a guy use this term during a breakout session at a pastor’s conference. He basically said, “When we get frustrated with the sin of someone in the church or angry with a deacon, sometimes we take matters into our own hands and launch a little scud missile sermon at them. We preach a sermon directed just at them and what we think they’re doing. And what usually happens is that they either don’t show up that Sunday or don’t realize we’re preaching at them.” If we are concerned about sin, that’s biblical. But we need to consider handling it privately first.

Look beyond the sinner and find Christ. I was very judgmental as a pastor. I thought upholding God’s law and practicing harsh church discipline were pleasing to Him. I thought Christ wanted a pure church and that those were the means to do it. Somewhere along the lines, I got mean about it. But church discipline isn’t mean. It’s restorative. We’re supposed to be Christ-like when we run across a major sin. Part compassion, part encouraging to repentance, and part waiting for God to act upon their heart.

Pastor, you may not realize that you struggle with this. Ask some of your close friends. Ask your wife. Better yet, allow Scripture to move upon your heart and look upon the works and words of Christ as your guide.

Other helpful articles:

What is the difference between discernment and being judgmental?” at Bible.org

What’s the difference between judging and being judgmental?” Church of the Holy Comforter

The Responsibility to Rebuke,” by John MacArthur

__________________

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.

Can We Just Forgive Someone “In Our Heart?”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in forgiveness, reconciliation | Posted on 25-07-2014

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forgivemeI want to write about a statement that really, really bothers me. “I’ve forgiven ‘so and so’ in my heart.”

I have heard this sentiment over and over for many years. I understand what it means. Usually, it means, “I say I forgive them, but I never really want to tell them I forgive them.

Is this true, biblical forgiveness? Does Jesus ever tell us that we can “forgive someone in our heart” then never tell them that we’ve forgiven them?

No.

Now, I’ll grant that there are times that we need to give forgiveness and that full reconciliation is not going to happen. I get that. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about John Churchgoer who doesn’t want to face the person who has wronged him and say, “I forgive you.” He doesn’t want to accept the apology or repentance of the person who is offering it. He doesn’t want to look that person in the eye ever again, as is required by Scripture. He just wants an “out.”

So he says, “I forgive him in my heart.”

Real forgiveness that involves face to face reconciliation is vital because it begins the healing process. It gives both parties the chance to have peace about the situation.

Where did this horrible phrase ever come from? It needs to be stricken from our vocabulary and replaced with true forgiveness. I have a feeling that this silent forgiveness exists because of the statement Jesus made in Matthew 6:14, “If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” And then, he states the negative. Maybe instead of facing people to reconcile with them and make peace, somewhere along the line, we decided it would be much easier on us if we just “forgave them in our  heart.”

But it’s just not biblical. I would encourage you that if you know someone who is repentant and has asked for forgiveness to ask why you haven’t forgiven them. Does it mean you still shouldn’t have boundaries, be careful with your trust, or have a heart to heart? No, but forgiveness is something we should never withhold.

Forgiveness needs to be real and honest. It doesn’t need to be silent. It’s either real or not. It’s either genuine and seeking toward reconciliation or it’s not.

Other helpful articles:

As We Forgive Our Debtors,” from Desiring God, John Piper

What Does the Bible Say About Forgiveness?,” by Mary Fairchild

What Does Real Forgiveness Look Like?” The Reformed Reader

__________________

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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 Blogs That You Really Should Read

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in blog, blogs, blogs worth reading | Posted on 18-07-2014

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blog9I love writing. And I love reading informative blogs – even ones that challenge me. One thing I like to do is point out some blogs I really enjoy. Here are 5 more blogs that I have enjoyed reading that I think are well-written and are worth your attention.

1. Jarrid Wilson – Jarrid is a talented blogger with insight on a lot of topics. He’s pastor of Lifepoint Church in Nashville and author of several books (including a really awesome devotional). His writing style is real, humorous when it needs to be, and always on point. A great post to start with: “4 Stupid Reasons To Not Like a Church

2. On the Journey, Brad Lomenick – Brad deals a lot with leadership training through the Catalyst Conference. He does so from a Christian perspective. He has a lot of great things to say. If your thing is motivation and leadership and you want a biblical perspective on it, Brad is your guy. Good post to start with: “Look at me when you’re talking to me

3. Whiskey Preacher – I’ve warned you all before on these, and Whiskey Preacher will warn you. There’s rough content ahead. But I will read and learn from anyone who has a voice. Phil has a lot to say and you’ll learn if you listen. Check out his website for more info. Here’s a post to start with to get to know him a bit: “Journal of a Postmodern Prophet (A Broken Day)

4. The Geek Preacher – Derek has been one of the guys who has encouraged me from the beginning. His blog is awesome. It’s got culture, Bible, nerdy stuff, and (oh my gosh, so awesome) he somewhere he has a picture of himself with Gary Gygax. When I was in a world where few people would even talk to me, he was very kind to me. That’s enough for me to highly recommend him. But even more, he’s a very talented writer and theologian (and he just had a birthday). So go check him out, you won’t be sorry. Great post to start with: “Exposing 5 Top Preacher Myths

5. Musings From a Musical Mind, Cindy Holman – Another great friend of mine who has been with me for a long time. I’m proud to know her and her husband. They were both willing to talk to me and Allison at a time when we really needed someone to talk to. Cindy is a great musical talent and expresses herself beautifully on her blog through music, poetry and art. She makes those passages in the Bible that are supposed to be artsy come alive with music (which is really important for people like me who need help in that department). She writes from her heart and I know you’ll connect with what she has to say. Good place to start: “My Unspoken Thoughts

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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.

“You Can’t Unscramble The Egg”

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, consequences, pastors, prevention | Posted on 16-07-2014

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I just can’t believe one indiscretion has led to all of this. I’m about to lose my wife, my family and my ministry.eggs4

His voice was panicked. I could tell he would give anything to go back and undo his sin, but he couldn’t. I had talked to hundreds of pastors in his situation. He had been caught, his wife knew, the church knew. He had been caught up in a series of emotions and a relationship that had spiraled out of control.

Like most relationships pastors get into outside of their marriage, it starts so small they don’t even see the trouble coming. They don’t see that they are emotionally troubled. Things begin to happen and then they begin with emotional adultery, then they may or may  not cross the physical line.

I remember the first time I heard the line, You can’t unscramble the egg. I was 13. I was hooked on John MacArthur sermons. My parents had a treasure trove of his sermons and I had become part of the cassette tape lending service. It was a sermon on “Divorce and Remarriage.”

MacArthur is one of those guys who is so black and white. And I remember when he got to talking about what people should do when someone is divorced, remarried and there is no chance for reconciliation. That’s when I first heard the term. He wasn’t condoning any sin. He was doing his best to describe the situation when a line has been crossed and you can’t put things back together.

That’s the line that pastors cross when they commit emotional or physical adultery. There’s no going back. That’s why I can’t tell guys enough, “Don’t do it. Once you cross over, there’s no going back and undoing all the damage.

“You can’t unsqueeze the lemon”

I’ll get a call from a pastor once in a while who will ask, “But no one but me knows. No one but me and the woman I was with. It will just hurt my wife if I tell her. It will tear the church apart. Won’t I just be doing worse damage if I let others know about this?

lemonsThere’s dangerous thinking here. The problem with it is that it sounds good on the surface. It sounds noble – like we’re trying to save people from being hurt. See, I’ve been in that situation so I know what’s really going on. What we’re really trying to do is save face. We’ve committed sin and we don’t want to get caught. Why? Because we stand to lose everything. (I have blogged about this before in a couple of different articles that you should read if you haven’t before.)

The other side of it is that we are trying to conceal sin. God doesn’t stand for concealing sin. All sin will be brought to daylight. We can’t hide any of it. Ask King David.

The best thing any of us can do is start telling the truth. But that’s not exactly easy, is it? Because for months, we’ve been practicing lies. We’ve been practicing deceit. We’ve been hiding emails, text messages, secret meetings and doing a pretty good job at it. And when we get caught, our first instinct is to keep lying. But the best thing to do is to start telling the truth. And it’s hard. It’s gut wrenching. But it’s the best policy.

“You can’t unbite the cookie”

The answer to a multitude of deceit is not more deceit. Pastors should know this. When we were pastors and someone came to us and said, “I’ve been lying about something.” What would our counsel be? It would be, “You need to start telling the truth.

See, we know the Scriptures, that’s why it’s so hard to talk to ministers so often. John 8:32 tells us a very serious

Image courtesy of thegunnysack.com

Image courtesy of thegunnysack.com

truth: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

It’s very difficult when we have dug such a deep hole and find ourselves at the bottom of it. When telling the truth means hurting those we love, losing the job we have fought for, finding disgrace, being embarrassed, and knowing that we have forsaken the calling of God.

But I’m going to shed some light here. God desires repentance. When we walk in sin, He wants us to return. Christ does value us, He loves us greatly and loves us deeply.

Telling the truth will be hard, it will make others hurt, but the lemon has been squeezed, the damage has already been done. It’s now a matter of deciding to repent and trust God in all things. Knowing that when He says He will restore us back to Him, He really means it.

Other helpful articles:

Think Twice Before You Commit Adultery” from The Good News Presbyterian Church

How to Confess Adultery to Your Spouse” by Dr. Don Dunlap, Pastoral Counselor

How Can I Heal My Marriage After Committing Adultery?” by John Piper

What Happens When the Worship Leader Commits Adultery?” by Roger Barrier

*Thanks to thegunnysack.com for the picture – it worked perfectly for the blog picture. The blog is run by Tonia who has all kinds of recipes and other great stuff. I ran across the pic doing an image search for what I needed for this blog post. The recipes there look great. That picture was for Ice Cream Filled Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites.

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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.