Every now and then, pastor/church scandals happen. How Should Christians Respond To Church Scandal? When it hits close to home, you feel several emotions all at once particularly if this pastor is one who has been a source of blessing to you as an individual. First, you’re in denial and disbelief. You do not want to accept that the rumours and allegations hold water. Then you feel betrayed as though you have been deceived all the while. After this, you start to see pieces of evidence and you become disappointed, angry and hurt. Some other times, you feel all these emotions altogether. You begin to question and wonder at many things. After this, sometimes many start to withdraw not just from the pastor but from the church. Some others never even make it to another church, they just give up on God entirely.
From the times of the early church when a brother was known to be having an affair with his father’s wife in 1 Corinthians 5, even till our day in 2019 – scandals in the church does happen. So, how should Christians respond to church scandal?
How Should Christians Respond To Church Scandal? Especially when a church leader is involved?
First, we need to understand that every man of God is first a man. Sometimes, we tend to be so shocked and surprised when pastors miss it and give excuses for ourselves when we miss the mark. But the truth is if we miss it sometimes, they too can miss because they are as human as we are. Yes, there is a higher standard the bible holds church leaders to, but they are still deserving of grace.
Also, sin is sin. Your pastor may have been involved in adultery or funds embezzlement. His/her sin isn’t different from your gossiping after church or lying to your boss the Monday after. Before God, sin isn’t defined by the magnitude. Sin is sin. If God forgives us all our sins regardless, we also should learn to extend grace to others, pastor or not.
Before God, sin isn’t defined by the magnitude. Sin is Sin. If God forgives us all our sins regardless, we also should learn to extend grace to others, pastor or not. Click To TweetYes, there is a higher standard the bible holds church leaders to, but we need to understand that every man of God is first a man. So they are still deserving of grace. Click To Tweet
Secondly, we ought to bear in mind that the fact that a pastor falls into sin doesn’t mean God is done with Him. King David once fell into sin. He slept with another man’s wife and in a bid to cover up, he killed her husband. Yet, when he repented and turned to God, He was restored.
A christian/pastor missing it also doesn’t mean God was never with him or he is not anointed. And this doesn’t mean God is done with him/her. Click To Tweet
However, I must say at this point that there is order in the house of God. A church doesn’t just operate by logic, what feels right or how the church leaders feel. There is a structure as seen in the bible and this should be adopted in the operations of the church even today.
So when a pastor or any other Christian misses it, in as much as the church should seek to for them to be restored, it is very important what their response is like. Repentance and confession, especially for church leaders, is very important as it is required in stewardship that a man be found faithful. The attitude of the pastor towards sin is very important.
If he commits a crime, he should submit himself to authority and be disciplined (if there is one attached to his misconduct) especially if the government or the law of the land are involved.
Refusing to repent, submit to authority or desist from misconduct would warrant the manner of dealings Paul reeled out for such a one in:
1 Corinthians 5: 1-5
“I also received a report of scandalous sex within your church family, a kind that wouldn’t be tolerated even outside the church: One of your men is sleeping with his stepmother. And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you! Shouldn’t this break your hearts? Shouldn’t it bring you to your knees in tears? Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?
3-5 I’ll tell you what I would do. Even though I’m not there in person, consider me right there with you, because I can fully see what’s going on. I’m telling you that this is wrong. You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own. Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master. Assemble the community—I’ll be present in spirit with you and our Master Jesus will be present in power. Hold this man’s conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! But if he can’t, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment….”
The purpose of casting him away is so that he can be restored back. Sin has a way of hardening the heart of a man even to the point of reprobacy. It is best that He be cast out, feels the impact of his misconduct so that he can be restored once again.
Thirdly, bible does instruct us to honour church leaders with double honour (1 Timothy 5:17) however we ought not to honour them above the Word of God. This means when it comes down to it, it is God’s word above any other person’s even your pastor. We mustn’t be caught in the web of exalting a spiritual leader above the standard of God.The Bible instructs us to honour church leaders with double honour (1 Timothy 5:17) however we ought not to honour them above the Word of God. Click To Tweet
Jesus called out the Pharisees and Sadducees (religious leaders in their time) and without restrain. He wasn’t scared or influenced by their person, he called out their misconduct whenever the opportunity presents itself. Paul called out Apostle Peter (emphasis on the Apostle… If it was by ranking, Peter would rank higher than Paul as Peter was an actual witness of Jesus – around during his time and now ministering among the Jews. Basically, he was a senior man) Yet, Paul called him out to his face and condemned his misconduct (Galatians 2:11-13)
This ought also to be our stance: No church leader should be above the Word, Standard and Order of God as seen in the bible. Any such one is in error and should be called out with honour but firmly. Click To Tweet
Finally, brothers and sisters, let your faith be in God and in God alone. Let it not be said, that your pastor missed it and you followed in his error or you ran away from God. The purpose of God for His church would go on with or without me or you or your pastor or mine. We must never forget this.Let it not be said, that your pastor missed it and you followed in his error or you ran away from God. Click To Tweet
I believe that this article is instructional enough on How Should Christians Respond To Church Scandal. Please feel free to share more scripturally sound contributions as a comment.