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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Celebrity Pastor Restoration Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 2 part post.

Here are some concerns and things to think on:

It is not OUR job to restore fallen celebrities to positions of influence and/or ministry. It is their own community’s job. And privilege. We didn’t walk the road. We didn’t live the story. We don’t know the conversations. We aren’t the first line of accountability. Some would then say the big “C” church needs more stories of restoration. I say that’s not necessarily what we need. We need more stories of the process of restoration going well from within that person’s own living breathing church community. And, that person may have lost the privilege of ever serving in the same capacity again depending on many, many things you and I may never know about and don’t have to.

Likewise, it is not OUR job to make judgments as to whether or not someone is or has dealt with their shortcomings. Same as above. To expand a bit on the Twitter quote earlier, when the worldwide church encourages and applauds a fallen ministry leader’s return to power and influence outside of or in spite of the accountability and authority of that leader’s own church community, the “restoration” is about as effective as wiping a baby’s butt over the phone and saying, “all clean!”

If I come home from work and my children tell me a story of how mom disciplined them for doing something wrong, I am going to get a very one sided story. They might tell me how they were treated unfair. They might make excuses. How wrong would it be if I immediately took their side, removed the punishment and sent them on their way? How horrible would it be if I said to them, in mom’s earshot, that I disagree with her and she is being too hard on them?

What would that say to their mom, my wife about how much I trust her? What do I teach my children about process? What disservice do I do to the family unit? What do I communicate to my children about how I view mom’s role? What horrid lessons do I teach my children about consequence. This is not restoration. This is rebellion, misuse of power, mistrust, and manipulation by both me and my children. It is wrong.

On Paul and David . . . Paul was a murderer before he was a Christ follower and before he was a leader in the Christian church. David was a king who abused his power and was disciplined for it. He was a king, not a pastor. God and the prophet Nathan dealt with him. Bad things happened because of David’s sin. Family members died. He wasn’t allowed to build the temple. Different system. Different rules. Different accountability. P.S. David did not escape that accountability. This line of reasoning is dumb and inappropriate.

On accountability . . . Accountability doesn’t count with the ones who don’t know the whole story or the ones who would help you hide the bodies no matter what the story is.

On grace and forgiveness . . . our ability to forgive, love, and be gracious to any individual who has fallen are completely separate issues from restoring someone to a position of influence. The process of relational restoration, restoring someone’s personal and family dignity, getting or giving someone counsel, ensuring a fallen brother or sister has the wherewithal to earn an income outside of ministry, etc. are all wonderful responsibilities and privileges of that individual’s church community. We can and should forgive and be gracious.

Do our churches need to be better at forgiveness? Yes. Do we, on the whole, suck at loving people who have made bad choices. Pretty much. But, our general church of Jesus worldwide problem is an issue that should be treated separately and should not be confused with our role in the restoration of an individual who may have influenced us yet we have no relationship with.

Restoration happens in relationship.


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