November 14, 2006
Protecting the Pastor's Soul
Practical disciplines to keep church leaders in the race.
The phenomenon of celebrity pastors in the American church cuts two ways. When a mega-pastor succeeds everyone buys their book, attends their seminar, and emulates their strategy. And when a mega-pastor falls we all look into our own souls for evidence of similar frailty. Although the Ted Haggard story has been all but forgotten by the popular media since the election, there are many church leaders still reeling from the revelations. In this post we highlight insights from other blogs about how pastors can guard their souls from the self-destructive power of immorality.
Professor Scot McKnight address how the environment created by evangelicalism contributes to pastors hiding their sins, and the importance of developing the discipline of confession:
In evangelicalism, and the charismatic stream in which Ted Haggard swims, sin is bad and sin by leaders is real bad. This leads to a complex of features that creates a serious problem.1. Christians, and not just pastors, do not feel free to disclose sins to anyone.2. Christians, including pastors, sin and sin all the time.3. Christians, including pastors, in evangelicalism do not have a mechanism of confession.4. Christians and pastors, because of the environment of condemnation of sin and the absence of a mechanism of confession, bottle up their sins, hide their sins, and create around themselves an apparent purity and a reality of unconfessed/unadmitted sin.5. When Christians do confess, and it is often only after getting caught, they are eaten alive by fellow evangelicals - thus leading some to deeper levels of secrecy and deceit.
Read more of Scot McKnight's post.
Pastor of Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll, outlines the precautions he takes to avoid compromising situations with women in his church:Pastors should have their office at the church and their study at home. There is no reason a pastor should be sitting alone at the church at odd hours (e.g., early morning and late evening) to study when anyone can drop in for any reason and have access to him. Instead, a pastor should come into the office for scheduled meetings and work from home on tasks such as emails, planning, studying, sermon preparation, etc. I spend the vast majority of my time working from home. Some years ago when I did not, I found that lonely people, some of them hurting single moms wanting a strong man to speak into their life, would show up to hang out and catch time with me. It was shortly thereafter that I brought my books home and purchased a laptop and cell phone so that I was not tied to the church office.
Read more of Mark Driscoll's post.
Finally, Jenell Paris shares about the five sex scandals she's witnessed in the seven evangelical churches she's been a part of. This pattern, she says, is more than coincidence:Their abuse was allowed to continue, in part, because of evangelical practice. We expect our leaders to be morally superior to the masses, and in order to preserve our expectation, we believe this to be so. We often allow pastors privacy in travel, expenses, and other arenas that we wouldn't allow to others. We often believe men in positions of power more than we believe the women and children who cry out against them. We prevent women from becoming true peers and colleagues to men, and so inhibit the formation of checks and balances that draw on the strengths of all people.
Read more of Jenell Paris' post.