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”

The Gospel-Centered Abuser

My dear Foolsgold,

I read your last report with great interest and not a little pride. Your great-uncle Screwtape will be delighted to hear of your success. (He will, no doubt, claim responsibility for your accomplishments—though these, we know, should be credited to my account.)

A decade ago, when your patient entered “the ministry,” I feared the worst for your assignment. His charisma (as they call it), rapid growth in spirituality, and skill in both teaching the Book almost guaranteed him a large following and much success in that wretched outpost of the Enemy—the church.

You did well to encourage it and to “assist” him in these endeavors. Once a human has started down this route, it is almost impossible to reverse. There is no going back. Instead, we adjust the trajectory ever so slightly and increase the momentum. This way, by the time he has gone off course, it is impossible to slow down or stop. The damage is certain. The destruction is extreme. Continue reading “The Gospel-Centered Abuser”

I Repent ≠ I Won’t Help You

This post is the third (and final) post in a series examining how we respond when we’ve wronged our neighbor. The first post (I’m Sorry ≠ I Sinned) focused on the difference between expressing remorse and confessing guilt. The second post (I Sinned ≠ I Repent) examined our obligation beyond grieving and confession, our desire to restore what we destroyed. I ended the last post by noting that confessing our sin against our neighbor does not release us from the obligation to restore our neighbor. Continue reading “I Repent ≠ I Won’t Help You”

I Believe Some Wrong Theology

I believe the Gospel.

Some of my theology is wrong.

Some of my theology will be wrong at death.

The Bible doesn’t indicate that God is in a constant state of annoyance with, anxiety over, or suspicion of me.

He patiently loves and teaches me.

How ought we to love one another?

The Gospel of an Imperfect Worship Service

I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog. I enjoy his short, pithy posts, often full of wisdom about life, productivity, and service to others. Saturday morning, I opened my email to find a new post from him in my inbox—“A note from 2020.” The content was simple and insightful: “Twelve years from now, your future self is going to thank you for something you did today, for an asset you began to build, a habit you formed, a seed you planted.”

The first thing that struck me, however, was not the content but the math error. 2020 is not twelve years from now. I followed the link to his blog, which opened to the same title but quickly refreshed to “2030.” Seth had caught his error.

I laughed. And I relaxed. This was good news. Even Seth Godin, a master of social media and blogging, knows that moment of panic and frustration when you discover your error five minutes after it publishes. The content of Seth’s post served me, even with the error. It reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect to serve people well on social media.

The same holds in our corporate worship services.

Those of us who lead services, serve in music, prepare service guides, preach sermons, read scripture, pray publicly, manage audio-visual components, and attend worship serves need to hear this message: Mistakes preach good news. Continue reading “The Gospel of an Imperfect Worship Service”