This article is a follow up to another article I wrote a couple weeks ago. Read The Hardest Thing I’ve Had To Do As A Leader: Part I here.
I was bracing for impact. I thought this was going to hurt us bad. I thought people were going to leave.
Most of the time in church when someone falls morally, it’s one of two things. It’s either this real mysterious so and so left for personal reasons, and no one really talks about it, and their office is now cleaned out, and their home is for sale and they’re gone.
Or, it’s a public witch hunt where the offending party is asked to confess their sins to the congregation and brace for public execution.
So either they’re fired or it’s hidden. Either way, it’s neither completely honest nor healthy.
The challenge is the church tends to gravitate toward these two extremes. And that doesn’t help the congregation grow, or help people see what church discipline should and could look like. It’s failing to educate the body.
Elders who continued to sin were warned by Timothy to confront them publicly so others will be fearful of sinning. This wasn’t just about my worship director, and my friend, this was about every staff person we would ever have for the rest of our tenure of our church. So I’m making a statement, one way or the other.
I was going to be honest, candid, forthright, upfront and clear.
I told the church. I told them what happened, what went down, and this is what we’ve done, but we are going to love them and try to restore them into the body, restore their marriages, and restore their spiritual lives. That’s what restoration looks like. It wasn’t about employment at that point. And I was very forthright to the congregation. No sweeping it under the rug. When you are in a platform ministry, the standards are higher. There’s very little margin for error in ministry; your moral life is your ministry. And the higher you climb, the narrower the margin. And the more public you are, the more public your fall has to be. You can’t hide a fall. You lose trust with your congregation. People want to follow a leader of a church that’s willing to be honest even when it hurts.
People saw that we were going to be honest, and we grew.
Pastors, don’t worry about keeping or losing people. It’s about keeping or losing the blessing of God in your church. If you begin to compromise or hide sin in your midst, you can forget it. God will move on.