It has always saddened me over the years as I’ve watched church leaders bring a reproach on the church of Jesus Christ. What’s shocking to me is how frequently Christian leaders sin grossly, then step back into leadership almost as soon as the publicity dies away.

Some time ago I received a cassette tape that disturbed me greatly. It was a recording of the recommissioning service of a pastor who had made national news by confessing to an adulterous affair. After little more than a year of “counseling and rehabilitation,” this man was returning to public ministry with his church’s blessing.

That is happening everywhere. Restoration teams—equipped with manuals to instruct the church on how to reinstate their fallen pastor—wait like tow-truck drivers on the side of the highway, anticipating the next leadership “accident”. Our church has received inquiries wondering if we have written guidelines or a workbook to help restore fallen pastors to leadership. Many no doubt expect that a church the size of ours would have a systematic rehabilitation program for sinning leaders.

Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong with the church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader’s sin. That the church is so eager to bring these men back into leadership is a symptom of rottenness at the core.

Some have claimed that a leader’s failure makes him more effective in shepherding fallen people. That is ludicrous. Should we drag the bottom of sin’s cesspool for the most heinous sinners to lead the church? Are they better able to understand the sinner? Certainly not! Our pattern for ministry is the sinless Son of God. The church is to be like Him and her leaders are to be our models of Christlikeness.

We must recognize that leadership in the church cannot be regarded lightly. The foremost requirement of a church leader is that he be above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2, 10; Titus 1:7). That is a difficult prerequisite, and not everyone can meet it.

There are some sins that irreparably shatter a man’s reputation and disqualify him from a ministry of leadership forever. Even Paul, man of God that he was, said he feared such a possibility. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 he says, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

When referring to his body, Paul obviously had sexual immorality in view. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 he describes it as a sin against one’s own body—sexual sin is in its own category. Certainly it disqualifies a man from church leadership since he permanently forfeits a blameless reputation as a one-woman man (Proverbs 6:33; 1 Timothy 3:2).

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. It takes only one pin to burst a balloon.

What about forgiveness? Shouldn’t we be eager to restore our fallen brethren? To fellowship, yes. But not to leadership. It is not an act of love to return a disqualified man to public ministry; it is an act of disobedience.

By all means we should be forgiving. But we cannot erase the consequences of sin. I am not advocating that we “shoot our wounded.” I’m simply saying that we shouldn’t rush them back to the front lines, and we should not put them in charge of other soldiers. The church should do everything possible to minister to those who have sinned and repented. But that does not include restoring the mantle of leadership to a man who has disqualified himself and forfeited the right to lead. Doing so is unbiblical and lowers the standard God has set.

So why is the contemporary church so eager to be tolerant? I’m certain a major reason is the sin and unbelief that pervade the church. If casual Christians can lower the expectations on their leadership, they will be much more comfortable with their own sin. With lower moral standards, the church becomes more tolerant of sin and less tolerant of holiness. The “sinner-friendly” church is intolerable to God—that is a frightening condition.

Conservative Christians have for most of the previous century focused on the battle for doctrinal purity. And that is good. But we are losing the battle for moral purity. Some of the worst defeats have occurred among our more visible leaders. The church cannot lower the standard to accommodate them. We should hold it higher so we can regain purity. If we lose here, we have utterly failed, no matter how orthodox our confession of faith. We can’t win if we compromise the biblical standard of moral purity.

What should you do in the current crisis? Pray for your church’s leaders. Keep them accountable. Encourage them. Let them know you are following their godly example. Understand that they are not perfect, but continue nonetheless to call them to the highest level of godliness and purity. The church must have leaders who are genuinely above reproach. Anything less is an abomination.

May God Forgive Us All

In His Continual Grip


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I feel your passion Scott, and understand your point. No one wants to see the Name of Christ tarnished, nor the work each of us are called to. Moving someone to a different part of a company and taking them off the field is wise.

I do take issue with the "Sinner-Friendly" church statement though. Acts 2:47 stated that the original church had "favor with all the people." This suggests saints and sinners alike. How are we to witness, minister (serve), and impart the Word of God if we are not "Sinner Friendly". Maybe I'm taking the statement out of context, but even Jesus was accused of being "Sinner Friendly".

What I am afraid of, is that we can become "Pharisitical". Maybe how we present and act out our discipline is the real issue. Following Jesus' example on discipline, before one is sentenced to death of active ministry, there should be some order to it,

I agree the church should be the leading example and not the company you work for. But our approach should also demonstrate the Unconditional Love that Christ demonstrated. "Go your way and sin no more."
I have another small comment. What should we do when we see that things may be going in the wrong direction before any kind of sin occurs? Could there be gestures, looks, speech, or other signs that people see and just ignore. Does a person just fall into a sin or are there signs along the way? If at all possible should we be trying to engage our brothers and sisters in more wholesome pursuits if we sense that something may be wrong? We all fall short of the glory of God and at some point we all may need some kind of assistance.
Hello Rainelle

Yes agreed, and amen to that. What are the signs of something that may be amiss? And yes we all fall short of the glory of God, why we need to be strengthened as well with sound doctrine. But regarding leadership, what are the signs of a leader who falls into the trap and snare of sin? Is it one when the doctrine becomes sugar coated to be everything to everybody preaching only to itching ears, with very little conviction and rarely does espository preaching, but rather seeks his own glory. Or is it when he excuses sin in the very church that he preaches and equips in. Or is it when he no longer seeks to go into the harvest of sinners to seek and to save that which is lost and has a true burden that is shared by the very Christ we serve?

Yes, good question but what are the signs? Is it when the pastor drives well while his flock walks? Is it when the pressure to build a bigger church supercedes building the Kingdom of God? Is it when the pastor doesn't look to affect the unevangelized and unreached areas of the world where people are suffering and dying while never even hearing of the name Jesus the Christ in the world of the lost and hopeless who are heavy laden who look mainly like us? What are the signs? Are the signs when the leader of the church is more concerned with the insurance of the parking lot and his fine clothing and building his mansion on earth than seeking to be fishers of men who languish in prisons and homeless shelters waiting for an ambassador of Christ to share with them the Good News of the only name that has the authority and power to transform lives? What are the signs?

Is the signs when the black church collectively speands less than .01% in worldwide missions, while the white conservative McCain voting churches spend 50% in the continuing works of Christ in the nations of the oppressed including Africa, India, S. America, Haiti and China? We are commanded and called to tithe so that there will be FOOD, not benz, not gucci watches for the pastor, but FOOD for those who are starving to death in the world where the name Christ Jesus is not known? Are these the signs? Are the signs when very few of God's commands are respected, honored and obeyed in engaging the culture where satan has blinded the very eyes that Jesus restored? Is the signs when the leader is more interested in feeding his belly than the belly of babies and children in Malawi Africa who haven't eaten anything decent in the last week or so and are orphaned and barely are surviving while the "christian" pastor as in the parable of the good samaritan walks on by the other side, while his very brother suffers on the side of the road, cause there isn't anything the man on the street can do for him? Are these the signs????

What say you?

God Bless

In His Grip

Here is a huge sign that things may not be right with the head and leader of the church where he is charged to sheppard those who are under him:

2Ti 3:1 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Rom 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent.

Php 3:18 For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Php 3:19 whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
Php 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Php 3:21 who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself

The Great Commission isn't for some, but for all to be involved in. Lets stop skipping through the more harder verses of duty and use only those scriptures that seek to only care for the church building and making sure the pastor goes on vacation to an island, rather for the body to affect the Kingdom of God in His harvest where the harvest is plentious but the true workers are sho nuff few.

Only when the least of these are sought after to reconcile them to the love of Christ is when true healing and restoration can be accomplished through truly serving those whom Christ wept and died for.

Now I ask all, is the slave greater than the master?

In His Grip

Amen L. Busby.......

That was a sho' nuff mess that took place, thank God noone was killed. The wages of sin is still death. Don't they know or have read that what you do in the dark will come to the light? It's not like they don't know God's Word, to me its as if they don't care. Do they really fear Him? Beleive in Him? Love Him?
Could it be..........Too many David's brothers and not enough Davids.
I do understand what you are trying to say here. In the past I have chosen to attend only those churches that I felt I could be relatively comfortable in. That could be because I had a little bit of spiritual discernment and some Bible knowledge. What about those people that don't have a good Bible base? I feel that any false preacher can only get away with what you let him get away with. Our people do perish from lack of knowledge and we should be educating them. Maybe someone should tell them you don't have to put up with the ridiculous things. You can stay and hold ministers accountable or you can walk away.We need people to form whose accountable groups.Do it with prayer.We need groups within the church to ask why things aren't getting done. We need groups that will go ahead and get things done themselves. Yes you can hold me accountable because in the end it is going to benefit me. I advocate possibly allowing a minister to return, after sin, based on the Bible. It also depends on what he or she has done and his or her attitude.In some cases maybe a time out may be needed. Maybe a minister might not come back in the same capacity.In the end the minister is still accountable to God for whatever was done. If a minister repents and is sincere and ready to really serve and God can still use his knowledge and skills. I say yes.You see I am used to being in a church where the minister is not held on a pedestal but is the servant of the congregation. It is not the minister who saves. It is God.One of the attributes of God is Mercy. His Mercy is everlasting.

You guys however are in the trenches and you probably see a lot more than I do. My experience has been mostly in churches that do give to orphans, have food pantries, have missionaries in third world countries that educate, feed, and support the needy, help the unwed mother get on her feet, have support groups for young brothers, support groups for drug abusers, aid people that may need help with their rent, heal the sick, do street ministry, and much more. You have to ask for and envision it.

I was given a dream once of black ministers playing a game of Monopoly and I was not invited. In my dream I went off to light fires in another room. Change is going to happen where things are not the way it should be. God will not be mocked.God does have a measuring stick and the church is going to be the first change to happen.
Indeed, I for one really appreciate all of the wise counsel on this forum and I am taking advantage of the truth and clarity God is providing.
I believe a pastor should be RESTORED after adultery, but only after sitting down and being REDIRECTED by another high in authority. Then he/she should be able to prove themselves worthy to step back in their position after enough time. It is not our place to judge anyone, no matter how high up they are. The problem is, we place poeple, instead of God, on a pedestal. If we didnt do this, we would not be so devastated, or dissappointed when a man of God falls. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. Although we are not leadedrs, we are still models of the Word. We are just as guilty. God is a forgiver and a restorer. Pastor, or no, we are all still in the flesh. I'm not giving them an excuse to committ sin, but they should not be casted out either. We sometimes fail as parents, (just as important as a leader), but we are still parents. Get the point...?

i believe your OP is written by John Macarthur of Grace to you ministries.

If so you should not be signing off at the end and appropriate acknowledgement of the piece should be given

I feel they should be restored.



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