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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Celebrity Pastor Restoration Part 1

Today I twittered, “Saying a fallen pastor is ready for influence in spite of the authority of the local church is like wiping a baby’s butt over the phone.” Many of you commented and wanted me to expand.

We are not immune to our leaders falling. Sex, money, power . . . they have the ability to corrupt and often do. None of us are immune. We are all “one giant confession of a respected leader” from falling to our own knees and having our world rocked. When our friends and leaders fall it often defines us in new ways.

Nothing is as sweet as restoration. Healing. Forgiveness. Grace. Where would we be without those things. We love to receive it. We need to give it.

Yet, I am increasingly puzzled and often angered by what happens with celebrity restoration. By “celebrity restoration” I am referring specifically to leaders of great influence and/or popularity being restored to their positions of influence (or similar positions)—as if nothing ever happened— in a short period of time— or over a longer time thanks to short term memories or the fear of conflict—not by the people they are in relationship with, but by the “fans” of that leader.

Did you catch that? I’m referring to us, the fans, the big “C” church, the church worldwide, looking at a leader we know nothing about and putting them back into a position of authority. Looking to them as experts. Buying their books. Hiring them at our churches. Having them speak as authorities and celebrities at our conferences. And doing all of this outside of the authority and accountability of their very own church—the one they let down.

Hear this: I am NOT saying fallen leaders lose their voice or become something less. I am NOT saying they can’t share their story. Here’s what I AM saying . . .

Scenario: A pastor of an influential church has a sexual failure or any major moral failure. He loses his job and his position of power and influence. Because his sin was so public and because so many of us in the church world observe the story, we begin to create our own narrative/mythology surrounding their fall. As such, given the limited and tainted details we receive, we arrive at conclusions such as, “they were treated unloving and/or unfair,” “why can’t we all get along?” or “sure they have faults, but don’t we all?” Typically, someone will throw into the conversation that, if we don’t “receive” them, we are hypocrites who wouldn’t even allow the Apostle Paul or King David to be on staff with us. Soon, because of their celebrity and because everyone wants the rest of the story, they are “restored” to a position of influence, often looking like victims and continuing in ministry of some kind. They get on the road telling the “story,” writing books, speaking and teaching, consulting and merchandising. Much of the time, they do so with little to no accountability or they say they are accountable to some yet, those people are not the ones they should be accountable to.

In these cases, I say it’s doo doo.

To be continued . . .

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