When Pastors Fall
Don’t be surprised. We’re all vulnerable. Pastors are sinners like everyone else. Nobody is above falling.
For the Fallen Pastor
Step aside. You are not your ministry. When you have been caught in a pattern of sin, or have disqualified yourself from ministry, remove yourself from your leadership role as quickly as possible.
Stay silent. Stay off social media. Refuse to defend yourself. It’s the last thing that you or anyone else needs.
Submit to the church. We preach the interdependence of the body. Now is the time to live that out. Submit yourself to the leadership of your church and its care.
Repent. No excuses. No blame-shifting. No spin. Don’t do it for the sake of your reputation. Do it for God’s glory and for the sake of your soul.
Get help. Find people who are committed to you. This means that they love you and tell you the truth. Ideally, this should include the leadership of your church, as well as trusted friends and counselors.
Put your restoration in the hands of others. You will not be in control of your own restoration. Submit yourself to others and allow them to decide when, if ever, you are ready to return to a ministry role.
For the Church
Minister to your former pastor. Fallen pastors and their families always need the ministry of the body. This is especially true after a moral failure. Serve them as members of your church.
Never confuse forgiveness with restoration. When repentance and confession take place, forgiveness should follow. This does not mean the pastor should be restored to a ministry role.
Treat the fallen as you would want to be treated. I love how Ray Ortlund puts it: “A goal: to correct/discipline/fire someone in such a way that onlookers think, ‘When I mess up, I sure hope these guys are around.’”
I hope you and I will never need to follow these steps, but they seem more timely than any of us would like.