If you think it couldn’t happen in your church, ask the congregation at Westminster Presbyterian in Minneapolis. Their senior and associate ministers both had sexual affairs. Both were married. Sooner or later every church may have to deal with someone in leadership who falls into sin and has an extramarital affair.
Who gets hurt when this happens?
- The person the minister is involved with
- The minister
- The families of both parties
- The minister’s wife
- The other person’s spouse
- The minister’s children
- The other person’s children
- The church
- Our testimony & witness for Christ
- Our faith & trust
When a sexual offense occurs, we have a number of issues to deal with.
- The spiritual, mental, and emotional health of the victim/other person and their family.
- Maintaining the unity of the marriages and families involved, both the minister’s and the victim’s/other person.
- The health of the church.
- Developing an attitude of confession and repentance on the part of the persons involved.
- The restoration of a growing relationship with Christ.
- Restoration to fellowship and acceptance in the Body of Christ.
For restoration to take place it takes such things as confrontation, confession, repentance, personal counseling, marriage or family counseling, and accountability groups.
What’s a church to do and not do?
- Don’t think the plan to fix this is fire the preacher and sweep the event under the rug. You can’t pretend like it never happened. Allow the members to speak about what’s on their heart.
- Be willing to forgive. This will be a test of the church’s ability to forgive. If they understand God’s ability to forgive them, then they’ll be able to forgive others. Also, understand that when I say forgive, it doesn’t mean you condone or agree with what has been done. It will take a while (a long while) for a church to put it behind them.
- Be concerned about the souls of the individuals. Spiritual restoration is the goal, not how quickly can you get this problem behind you.
What’s a minister, youth minister, elder or leader to do to keep this from happening?
- Be Aware. Every minister needs to realize they are always at risk to cross that boundary into the forbidden zone every day. Never counsel alone or be alone with another person of the opposite sex. (1 Corinthians 10:12)
- Know warning signs and be aware of your boundaries.
- Accountability. Be accountable to someone. If you’re married, be accountable to your wife. Tell her where you’ve been, where you’re going and who will be there. If you’re single, be accountable to another minister.
I really didn’t plan for this post to answer a lot of questions, but more to spark our comments and thoughts that we post. In that, I know we will be able to find some things we can use.
So, want to share some thoughts with us ?
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