There's some interesting stories. Like this Christianity Today article where one church's struggle with an adulterous pastor is mentioned. However, it deals with how a church is supposed to handle the consequences. It really paints the fallen pastor as someone who gets left by the wayside. I suppose that's fine since it's about how the church needs to move on.
Interestingly, it does note how unwilling some churches are to forgive pastors who have fallen. One church was still lashing out at a former pastor 25 years after the fact by taking it out on every pastor who had been called since. Ouch.
Then, one of my former heroes, John MacArthur (more about that later), has this article about whether fallen pastors should be restored to the pastorate. That's a blog for later. I appreciate MacArthur's strong biblical stand on his issues. He gives this interesting insight:
Where did we get the idea that a year’s leave of absence and some counseling can restore integrity to someone who has squandered his reputation and destroyed people’s trust? Certainly not from the Bible. Trust forfeited is not so easily regained. Once purity is sacrificed, the ability to lead by example is lost forever. As my friend Chuck Swindoll once commented when referring to this issue—it takes only one pin to burst a balloon.
There are a few ministries online apparently for fallen pastors. One that caught my eye had the heading, "Fallen Pastors." It's run out of Springfield, Missouri and had the following statistics on the front page:
· Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
· Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
· Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
· Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
· Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
· Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.· Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
I emailed them when I first fell, but never got a response. I tried again, but never heard a word. Good idea, but they might want to check their email.
I do want to mention an extraordinary blog post I read on the topic. It's from "The World From Our Window" a blog post titled, "What Shall We Do With the Fallen Pastor?"
There is some interesting information out there, but I would encourage anyone dealing with this issue personally to take time to remember that there are real people involved. That the pastor and his family are suffering. The person the pastor was involved with is suffering. The church members are suffering. All of them need love, forgiveness and attention.