As news breaks of another significant church leader being stood down over allegations of abuse it causes me to wonder why we allow this to continue.
This Story has been months in the breaking, and years in the circumstances leading up to it. What is most surprising in this particular one is that those who had the authority to remove the leader didn’t. Those who could have dealt with it before it became a major issue appear reasonable, fair and dare I say it, nice. My question in this post is why didn’t they deal with the situation until it was about to become public.
Success has become defined in Christians circles as the ability to draw a crowd. How ironic that in this latest story the model was to live in close quarters with each other. The leader had a church of around 120 people. Not the sort of church featured in Relevant Magazine. But he was a gifted preacher, a skilled leader and had the ability to capture imagination and inspire young people.
The common factor in contemporary stories of Church leaders who have fallen is not their theology. We have seen complimentarian leaders, egalitarian leaders, reformed, pentecostal, charismatic, seeker sensitive, house model and in fact I can’t think of a type we have not seen. Let us not overreact and say the mega church is flawed. It isn’t. Neither is the House Church movement. People are flawed. People with no accountability are dangerous.
My proposition is that the common factor with these leaders has been their gaining of disproportionate power through success.
Success covers a multitude of sins.
We do not deal with their abuse, their misuse of power, their sexual abuse, their lack of Christian grace, kindness and mercy because we are worshipping on the altar of success. We do not want to deal with their issues because we are enjoying being a part of a movement of God. We don’t speak out because we don’t want to be marginalised or accused of being a gossip or worse, see the ministry come crashing down.
I think we need to understand the complexity of this issue. Our God is incredibly gracious. He uses people who are incredibly flawed. We see this time and time again in the stories in the Bible. In a similar way, people in these ministries find Jesus, discover purpose for their lives, find community and places to worship together.
However no-one is above correction, rebuke and even church discipline.
We need to once again meditate on what success is and understand success can be extraordinary. Revival is real, does happen and should be celebrated. Let us not be cynical. However success can also be a temptation to overlook. To not reflect. To not allow difficult questions to be asked.
My hope, joy and belief is in the local church and the leaders who choose to take up that call to lead. It is not a easy role. It is indeed a calling. One I cannot turn away from.