"What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul, towards their purification?"

This blog has been moved to www.fallenpastor.com.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reconciling With A Fallen Pastor, Part 1: Before Your Pastor Falls

I was perusing my Google statistics the other day and was examining what people were searching for. It interested me and shamed me at the same time.

"How to minister to a fallen pastor"

"Reconciling with a fallen pastor"

"After a pastor falls, how do you forgive him"

"What to say to a fallen pastor"

I've been writing this blog for almost a year and haven't hardly covered any of these topics directly. Maybe I wasn't ready to give advice in these matters. Maybe I was still too bitter or angry to attempt to advise church members in these areas. I've written on common characteristics of a fallen pastor and forgiveness, but not how to help the fallen pastor.

Now, I believe I am ready to give advice to those whose pastors have fallen morally.

I can guarantee you that there is a plethora of experts out there with PhDs who are certified to give you better advice. But they are not fallen pastors. I am. I can tell you as a fallen pastor, who has spoken with other fallen pastors what I needed to hear. What would have helped me or what I would have listened to.

I can't break it all down in one post either. And I can't really make it into a system that you can apply in one simple way. It may not work every time. Each fallen pastor's heart is different. You are different. Each church member reacts differently to their fallen pastor. All I can do is give you a guideline to follow.

The best thing to remember is that we're all human. Faulty. And your pastor, fallen or not, is a sinner. If he has already fallen, remember that he is human and exposed. And one day, you may be where he is.

I want to tell you what to do before your pastor falls.

Let me tell you about me for a moment. This isn't self-aggrandizing. Two years before my fall, I was named pastor of the year in our association. Big deal. However, I was a pastor on the rise. My church loved me. Despite our small issues, I was seen as invincible. We had programs that were great, we were growing fast and we had a lot to be proud of.

No pastor is untouchable. I've had conversations with just about every pastor I know who has told me that he has been approached by women for sex. No joke. That wasn't the case for me and Cynthia. Our love was born out of respect and need. However, I know many pastors of large churches who have been approached by "groupies."

In seminary, we were told that upwards of 65% of pastors struggle with pornography. I think that number is much higher. At one point in my ministry, I struggled with it as well. I confessed it at one point to Angelica and overcame it. Why do pastors struggle with it? Many times, pastors give and give and give, and never receive. Pornography is an easy take. It is a cheap way to receive.

Pastors spend the vast majority of their week giving out of their time and energy. Do you remember the last time you asked your pastor for something? Of course. But do you remember the last time you asked your pastor when you could do something for him? When you sent him a card? Or encouraged him? And I'm not talking about saying, "good sermon." A sincere, "Did you know that you changed my life? And here's how you did it ____________."

Pastors struggle. Bad. They fight the good fight all week. Praying, visiting, doing what they need to do for the church when the members aren't even thinking about the church. And when Sunday comes, people show up and start complaining about what isn't being done right. Or they complain about this and that. It's disheartening.

When was the last time you said something nice to the pastor's wife? Or his children? They need love. So much. When was the last time you said, "Pastor, let me watch your children so you and your wife can go out on a DATE." A date. Did you know that a large number of pastors and their wives aren't as happy as they seem? I'm not saying that because I couldn't keep my marriage together. It's the truth.

I'm saying that because I know many pastors NOW who are miserable in their marriages. They are struggling to find time for their wives and children. Do you love your pastor and his family? Give him and his family your time. Better yet, make sure your pastor and his family have at least three weeks off PAID vacation every year. Yeah, I said it. Pay for them to go to Disney every year.

Make sure that the spiritual leader of your community can clear his head and go. If someone in the church dies or gets sick while he's gone - don't tell him. Don't call him. Let him and his family go.

If your pastor is any kind of man at all, he'll be so worried about the church that he'll insist that you tell him. Don't. Send him once a year on a cruise with his wife.

This is how you save your pastor and his marriage. This is how you love him and his family. This is how you let him breathe. Don't let him bury himself in "work." He needs love and attention from his congregation. Don't let him worry himself sick over details. Let him be a man.

Ironically, my former mother-in-law had a bumper sticker that said, "Pray For Your Pastor."

I'm not sure Angelica prayed for me daily. Even if she did, it's not her fault that everything fell apart.

I'll tell you this, though. Whether your church is 10 members or 1,000 members, if all of your people pray for your pastor daily, hold him accountable lovingly, you will have done all you can to keep him from sin.


  1. Great post, my friend. Churches can take preventative steps before they watch pastors fall. One big help would be for them to see pastors not as saints, but as humans (and therefore sinners) right from the beginning. It is often impossible to live up to expectations- so we quit trying. At least that was a part of my experience.

  2. CJ,

    Great thoughts and thank you for sharing. One thing I neglected to mention was that pastors need to network with other pastors for accountability.

    Also, I contacted the church that ordained me. They told me that they were sorry for not keeping up with me over the years and holding me accountable. They said from now on they planned to contact the pastors and deacons they ordained and to ask them how they were spiritually several times a year. I thought that was an excellent idea.

    Thank you for your comments. Please keep in touch.