Ministerial Sexual Abuse: High Treason in the Kingdom of God

This week, another story broke about a pastor who sexually abused a church member. That sentence seems accurate almost every week. Ministerial sexual abuse in an unfortunate constant in 2019’s headlines.

As each story that breaks, the same responses multiply. Some, understandably, see such abuse as permanently disqualifying. A man who has used the office of pastor to manipulate one under his care for sexual pleasure may never fill the office again. Others question why these reports matter—especially when the abuse took place “so long ago.” Should what a man did as a 22-year-old pastor impact his eligibility to hold the office one, two, or three decades later?

At the heart of this question are two matters: the nature of sex and the nature of the church. Continue reading “Ministerial Sexual Abuse: High Treason in the Kingdom of God”

I Sinned ≠ I Repent

Yesterday, I posted a short meditation on the difference between saying “I’m sorry” and “I sinned.” I emphasized that expressing sorrow over an action is different than admitted a wrong. When we have done wrong, both are necessary. We should feel and express grief over the harm we have done. Likewise, we should own our wrong-doing; we should admit that what we did was actually wrong. Both are necessary, but both are not sufficient. Love calls us to repent. Acknowledging that we have sinned against our neighbor and expressing grief do not equal repentance. Continue reading “I Sinned ≠ I Repent”

Welcoming Single Parents

This guest post by Wendy Alsup explores how the local church can welcome, include, and minister to single parents. It is part of my “Welcoming…” series, which features first-person articles on how to welcome various demographics into our lives and church communities. Previous installations include “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community” and “Welcoming the Eating Disorder Community.” 


My little church plant in the Lowcountry of South Carolina has many single parents. On a given Sunday with 40 in attendance, at least 15 regular attenders are single parents and their children. Most are single mothers with primary custody of their children. Continue reading “Welcoming Single Parents”

A Mini-Memoir of Pastoral Burnout

Today I have a piece up at Fathom Mag on my experience of pastoral burnout. Here’s the intro:

I knelt on the floor of my study all night, my forehead pressed into the carpet, my fists pressed against my temples. I pulled my hair and wept until I fell asleep, exhausted. Waking in a fetal position, I remembered where I was and what I faced and begged, “Lord, please . . . please . . . please . . . send someone else.”

I pressed my face into the floor and sobbed, no longer able to pray with words. Tears and snot and saliva soaked my beard and the carpet. Alone in the darkness, I didn’t care. 

A faint light shone through the blinds but the rising sun did not bring hope. I wiped my face and tasted blood. Weeping face down through the night, the capillaries in my nose had broken and bled into the cream carpet. Time was up. I had to shower. I had to dress. I had to go to church. I had to preach. 

In the early morning light, I knelt with rags and carpet cleaner and scrubbed the spot until it changed from crimson to white. The words of the prophet repeated in my head, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”

Although that was the last time I bled into the carpet, it was not the last time I met Sunday morning with a breakdown. I didn’t want to preach. I didn’t want to pastor. I didn’t want to live. 

Read the rest here.