After The Scandals: Why Nothing Will Change

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91 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, this is 100% wrong.

    Small churches have abuse too. I almost agree with the sentiment, except for the fact that is all wrong.

  2. Michael says:

    Yes, small churches can have issues too.
    I still say the model must be addressed.

  3. Michael says:


    Did you have specific points that you disagree with or are you simply taking the place of the loyal opposition to all things Michael?

  4. Babylon's Dread says:

    Mohler is a gatekeeper.

    I think change is inevitable and will be painful as Michael indicates.

    The family model is I think the right model.

    Freedom means people can choose, we don’t want that gone.

    Lots of small churches are just as messed up for other reasons. Usually that means a layperson who functions as the gatekeeping strongman of the house.

    Strong people are necessary … good people are preferable.

    Holy loving people indispensable

  5. Michael says:


    I was involved in putting Calvary Chapel in a similar situation for a number of years.
    Made noise, created shame, and outcry for change.
    Nothing happened.
    It’s all about liability…

  6. “Did you have specific points that you disagree with…?”

    Yes. And I made one of those points. Small, ineffective churches may be just as dangerous in terms of abuse than large churches, and may be easier for them to cover it up. ( for the readers, I work at a small church and prefer smaller churches.)

    If the things that you mention aren’t change, then what would you consider change? Aren’t you moving the goalposts?

    And I’m not against all things Michael, I just think you got this one wrong.

  7. Michael says:

    The structure has to change.
    There have to be real consequences for abusers who may not do something criminal, but something damaging to God’s people.
    Ministers have to publicly defrocked and the reasons why made public.
    When Al defrocks C.J….I’ll write again.

  8. Did you see Al’s statement about CJ?!?

    He has no standing to defrock CJ, but he drove a bus over him for sure.

    2 – What would the proper structure be? We have seen abuse in every single structure. Is there one nobody has tried that will work?

  9. Michael says:

    Al stopped short of demanding that C.J> be investigated or defrocked.

    We may have to create new structures…


    That’s pretty thorough and specific. If Al Mohler, of all people, publicly apologizing isn’t change, I don’t know what is.

    The new structures will have to preclude humans or they will also fail.

  11. Michael says:

    Apologies without action are wind.
    Yes, new structures will fail at times…but we have to try.

  12. Steve says:

    Holy Smokes Michael! This is exactly what was on my mind today. It looks gloom and doom for sure but we also know Christ in on the throne.

  13. Michael says:


    Doom and gloom will only happen if we let these opportunities pass and wonder why our churches are shrinking.

  14. What action could Mohler take? He has no authority over CJ. The friendship is severed and he has recommended an independent 3rd party investigation.

    He has done the right thing. He did not ordain CJ, and has no standing to pull his ordination. His public apology about the relationship will inform other SBC churches that CJ is not to be cooperated with. I really see nothing else that he could do in that case.

    J.D. Greear has made unprecedented selections and recommendations for this year’s SBC. That’s all he can do, but has done it more bravely than any SBC president in my lifetime. We’ll see what happens at the convention, but we should applaud positive change where we see it, even in Calvary Chapel.

  15. ” if we let these opportunities pass and wonder why our churches are shrinking.”

    Moving the goalposts again, brother. In the article you say that the shrinking churches are the ones doing it right.

  16. Michael says:

    I’ll tell you what will happen at the convention.
    They will disfellowship some churches where criminal activity is on the record.
    No one will lose their job and those churches will go on with minor changes to signs and stationary.

  17. Michael says:


    No, I’m not.

    Some churches never get big enough to shrink…they don’t have the accouterments necessary to compete.

  18. Michael says:

    What I’m addressing is the fact that all denominations across the board are losing more people than they’re gaining.
    We blame the culture and the devil and liberals…but part of the blame lies elsewhere.

  19. “They will disfellowship some churches where criminal activity is on the record.”

    What should the SBC do, other than that? Bomb them?!? You can’t stop people from assembling together. SBC can say “You are not with us”, but that’s it…and that’s huge.

  20. Michael says:

    “What should the SBC do, other than that?”
    You have to take out the pastors…even when they don’t have a criminal record, but they are abusive.

  21. Disfellowshipping a church is taking out the pastor. We cannot keep him from holding meetings. There is no possible way to do so.

  22. Michael says:

    You can revoke their credentials and create a publicly searchable database to inform people.

  23. Em says:

    Michael @ 1:03 ? ? ?

    But then… you might get sued… Defemation err something

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    I agree, to a large extent, with Michael’s assessment of two models – family or free enterprise businesses. That being said, I’ve seen a lot of dysfunctional families and I’ve seen businesses that are genuinely ethical and that care about the people’s lives whom they touch. Yes, I’ve seen large churches that are awful and others that are wondrous, just as I’ve seen small churches that are abusive and others that are caring.

    I think it is about the “intent” of both the leaders and parishioners. If the intent is worship, service, mutual care and learning, it will probably be a good church whatever its size and will not tolerate abusive behavior. If the intent is financial gain, power and “leader worship” it will be a bad church no matter the size. I don’t think any of us believe we can find a perfect church, but we might find one with the proper motives.

    In all these scandals, it seems to me that the intent and motives of the leadership and the parishioners are what need to be examined. We see it with some of the RC leadership. The intent is to preserve the status quo; to protect the structures. People see this and are leaving. I only hope and pray the the SBC and other denominations will not do the same. If they do, nothing will change apart from a new coat of paint…

  25. Michael says:


    Well said.

  26. Jim says:

    Mohler is over a decade late to the party, and his big statement cost him nothing. Only God knows what Mohler and his ilk’s disinterest cost others.

  27. Paige says:

    IMV what needs to ‘change’ is the parishioners. IF we all had consistent times in the Scriptures, prayer and pursuit of personal ‘holiness’ aka sanctification or whatever else you call it, much of this poison church nonsense would cease. Large crowds gathered to hear Jesus, and Paul. Small attendance numbers can mean that the church is just as dead as a huge one full of superficial ‘believers’… IMO what is deeply needed is a renewed Fear of God…. IF we truly knew Him, knew His Word & standards and power and His love and affection for us, WE would walk in/by the Spirit, ‘always doing those things that please the Father” or ‘not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh” . Of course, our human nature will fail at times, but to seek immediate repentance, cleansing and renewal, and making amends (ala Numbers ch 4 and the Twelve Steps of AA). To “draw near to God… and cleanse our hands, etc”…. Of course, this is a lofty pursuit….. but by His Grace, it is my pursuit.

  28. “You can revoke their credentials and create a publicly searchable database to inform people.”

    The convention cannot revoke credentials, but yes, J.D has recommended going forward with a national database. So you you may get one of those two.

  29. Jim – then in your view there is no redemption for Mohler. He agrees that he is late and says he regrets his past inaction. Should he jump off a bridge or something?

    You can’t just demand apologies and change, and then not accept those exact apologies and changes.

  30. Eric says:

    Just like Solzhenitsyn’s quote about the line between good & evil running through every heart, the same is true of churches. So Michael’s described good churches, good pastoral ministry etc and free market religion, but the truth is that good and bad are mixed together, like the good & bad in my own life.

    One of the common causes of scandal is the organisations we have built to help in God’s work end up seeking to protect themselves (the organisations), even when that goes against God’s way.

    Often it’s plain old sin in individuals.

  31. Outside T. Fold says:

    Love this analysis of the “plantation capitalist” model of the currently-poisoned American church. What would it look like to treat each person as sacred?

  32. Jim says:

    Josh, I have no interest in apologies. If Mohler is telling the truth, he deliberately, intentionally remained ignorant.

    ” I frankly was not equipped to sift through the allegations and did not grasp the situation, and I am responsible for that and for not seeking the counsel of those who were.”

    Plenty of people, who Mohler ended up slandering at T4G, were quite equipped to bring Mohler up to speed. I’m not guessing when I clearly state that he had zero interest. He picked a side and demonized the “other side”. His action were not passive, but active.

    He doesn’t need my forgiveness but could obtain my phone number in five minutes if he wanted to receive it. In 30 minutes, he could receive contact info of real victims, but those from SGM(C) haven’t heard from him.

    If he calls me, I’ll accept his apology. I don’t accept press releases.

    Josh, I like you, and this topic can bring out the really ugly in me. Please accept that you are missing all of the relevant details.

  33. Eric says:

    In Australian baptist churches, ordination is done by the denomination rather than a local church. Churches are fairly autonomous, they may join or leave the association if they want, they choose their own pastors (who don’t have to be ordained). Importantly there is communication. The denom does a few things to support the churches – perhaps more then US baptists, but less than the more hierarchical denoms. (The pentecostal denoms and the Churches of Christ I think work similarly).

    It is standard practice here for any church employee or even volunteer to have a police check. However I think this only points out if there was a conviction, not whether there has been anything reported or suspected.

    The suggestion for the SBC to keep records to stop serial offenders is a good one, but in the broad evangelical church there’s no one organisation or even set of organisations that covers all churches (though the SBC is bigger than anything we have here). There is value in having a record somewhere – even in the collective memory of people around the place – dare I say, gossip – but there is no easy solution.

  34. pstrmike says:

    I have been thinking through becoming a cooperating church with the SBC. The Paige Patterson incident caused me to rethink this idea, and I was ready to take the plunge when the stories broke. Perhaps I don’t want to be a part of this group after all.


    “In 30 minutes, he could receive contact info of real victims, but those from SGM(C) haven’t heard from him.

    If he calls me, I’ll accept his apology. I don’t accept press releases.”

    I didn’t realize that SGM was SBC.

    I don’t know your background or involvement with this. But yes, a press release isn’t really an apology, but it may be the best Mohler can do, and probably the best you are going to get. I imagine if I had some skin in that game I would feel the same way.

    Think there are times that you have to take responsibility for the actions of others in your tribe. I apologized to man who felt that he was kicked when he was down by one of my colleagues. I felt like it was the right thing to do.

  35. Michael says:

    Jim was to SGM what I was to CC…but he did it better than I did.

  36. Em says:

    To borrow a phrase from someone, Paige nailed it @ 2:25… Pew sitters, edify and arise. When did our Lord ever tell us to sit? ?

    Now i’ll go back and finish reading this very timely, cogent thread – good posts here IMHO

  37. Mohler did wrong. I am shocked that he acknowledged and apologized for it.

    That, of course, will not heal the pain of those involved, but hopefully it can be a start down a right path.

    Now, I’m not comfortable being an SBC apologist. I want to acknowledge when good things happen, but not be in a fantasy world that everything is perfect. There is a long way to go, alot more pain to endure, but SBC leadership have taken the proper posture thus far.

  38. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am pretty sure that the policy on child abuse in my church is one of 2 things.
    1.) Take the perpetrator out back and beat the crap out of him and send him to the police.
    2.) Take him out to the desert and no one hears from him again.
    I support either.

  39. Jerod says:

    If American Christianity is truly a free market religion, than these churches (maybe Christendom as an enterprise itself) should have folded by now after so much disgusting abuse. Yet…

    All that happens is hand wringing by the parishioners over whether or not they should curb that church. Usually they won’t. They’ll still keep forking their money over for new sound systems, 5,000 guitars, lights, Monitors, buildings, schools, lawsuits, etc.

    The problem is the pulpit parrots,
    the problem is the pews.

    Maybe all the righteous side of our anger gets ameliorated on Twitter and Facebook

  40. Jerod says:

    $5,000 guitars… 5,000 guitars would be Bill and Teds Excellent Worship Set

  41. filbertz says:

    each model put forward will have pros and cons. identifying the non-negotiables, the essential principles, is the critical piece, in my opinion. agreement on what those are and how they are implemented and maintained is the tall order of the day.

  42. filbertz says:

    …in other words substance over style.

  43. MLD, a father and his brother did your #1 to the guy who molested his teen daughter. The DA in San Jose sent both to prison, despite community protests. The perp had already been on trial and was later convicted.

  44. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Victor – good advice. We will change the church by laws to include #2 only. 🙂
    We are rural and a constitutional open carry state – we have this covered.

  45. UnCCed says:

    Again, as usual you said what I believe The Spirit is trying to communicate and even warn what He was charged to kee and brood over.
    Again, those who do not have ears, won’t hear.
    I wasn’t prepared, and it’s my fault, for what is so clearly coming down the pike, as I too, whored after carnal desires, like the Pharisees, in the name of God, whitewashing everything to cover rotten fruit, knowing the obvious lack of power was a sign God was/had withdrawn his candle, “though we had a name,…until we repent.”
    And even now, we blameshift, and obsfuscate, spraying Windex where we can while Jesus is watching the innocent getting raped, sharing their pain, lifting up their cries and pleas for help to Father, as our faithful High Priest, both wishing we’d move mountains with the faith He promised us to execute judgement He promised for “these little ones” on behalf of their souls, their futures, all who come in contact with their, for I assure you, the evil inflicted upon them, at our feet, while we watch, will bear fruit for decades.
    I write this with tears as it reminds me of the same evils I witnessed in Southern Iraq, and elsewhere, except none of the perpetrators nor those who protect them, or their religious buildings claimed the name of Jesus.
    I’m so ashamed.
    Judgement must begin at the house of the Lord.

  46. Randy Davis says:

    After reading this discussion, I seen no hope, at least on the natural level.

    The current environment in the SBC is the fruit of what was called the conservative resurgence. Whether or not the correction was necessary is for another discussion But, it was the methods that has caused the problems. It was a power play. The men involved were ruthless, power hungry, and unethical in in their behavior. A lot of good people got hurt. And after fighting over the Bible, most still don’t preach it faithfully.

    The environment made certain that autocratic leaders “ran” the large and influential churches. Autocratic leaders do not answer to anyone which creates a toxic environment. These leaders are interested in maintaining their own power and don’t like the demands of others for accountability. Almost every young pastor dreamed of being an autocratic pastor.

    I stopped being active in SBC life a long time ago. I remained active on the level of the Assocition and State Convention. Our association has about 100 churches and our convention has about 1500 churches— all mostly small churches. In this smaller environment it’s harder for wayward pastors to hide. However even this smaller level corruption still exists. I preached when allowed in meetings and spoke out in other ways, against the corruption that we see on the SBC level but I can’t say that much changed, except we could blackball and excile guilty pastors and that information is available to anyone who asked for it.

    The SBC has a noble purpose. It is not supposed to be a denomination. Rather it is supposed to be a cooperative where churches can pool their money to carry out foreign and home missions and to provide theological education. But it’s big money and power follows money. At some point Southern Baptists decided they needed more clout with the secular culture- we all know that The great commission was about political action. Well it all leads to losing focus on the things of God. And this same secular mentality was taking place across other denominations.

    I think American Christianity is so much like 8-7th century BC Israel. They convinced themselves that their way was better than God’s way and God should be happy with us. Faithfulness to God’s ways seem to be unimportant. The result is that they could no longer hear God or see the impending judgement and repent. The voices of the prophets were unheard and unheeded. And you know that judgment came.

    I think this is where we are. We are faithful to God-but in our way and thus missing the mark. I think American Christianity is under judgment and we don’t hear Spirit and we can’t repent. Thus I think Michael’s statement is correct, nothing will change until the pews are empty and the money is gone.

  47. To be clear, I’m not mad and not defending the SBC. I want solutions. I want change. This article claims to offer some, but I don’t understand. Is there any chance we could flesh out some things?

    “The main issue is the model.”

    1. I disagree with this. The main issue is the sinful heart of man. Abuse has happened in business, entertainment, universities, and church, too. That is not to obfuscate, but to attempt to identify the real problem. Church abuse SHOULD bother us more than in any other organization. However, it seems difficult to point the finger at the organization, when abuse has been so prevalent in every other sector as well.

    2. If the main issue really is the model, that is easily fixed: Change the model! But there has not been one example given of what the correct model would be. Changing the model does not help, as evidenced in other church organizations experiencing the same problems.

    So again, what is the REAL solution?

  48. Kevin H says:

    Cat videos, Josh. The solution is cat videos. 🙂

  49. ” Is there any chance we could flesh out some things?”

    Kevin : Nope! 🙂

    Again, Randy has some good things to say.

  50. Kevin H says:

    No? Can’t videos aren’t the answer?

    Okay, in seriousness, I far from can give what I believe to be the definitive solution. I see legitimacy and insight in the various different opinions given here.

    I guess the best that I can say is that there is no and never will be (until Christ returns) a perfect model. There are probably some models that are inherently better than others, but they all have liabilities. At the very least, I would say that each structural model, from the singular independent church to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church can find ways to better equip their model to handle and protect against abuse. Some may need bigger changes than others.

  51. Kevin H says:

    *Cat*, not can’t. Not sure how that happened.

  52. Michael says:

    I’ll comment when I get the quiz up…

  53. Michael says:

    I’ve not only called out the current model, I have cited what the Bible says is the correct model.
    An entrepreneur and a shepherd have different job descriptions with different expected outcomes.

    One seeks profit and brand recognition, the other is protecting and growing people.

    The fact that there would even be slight disagreement over this simply tells us how far we’ve fallen.

    I see no hope at all, but I see a steady deterioration leaving a battered remnant who will set a new standard of family modeled ,biblical, ministry in some new generation.

    Pretending that the power brokers are interested in real reform is delusional, but delusions are a comfort at times.

  54. Michael says:

    We can call out bad guys until each blogger gets to retirement age, but what really needs to take place is the education of the laity about what a church really is.

    My guess is that the real deal would be unattractive to most in 2019…

  55. Xenia says:

    I believe that so many modern churches are so afraid of being called legalistic that much that is sinful is overlooked. “Legalism,” so called, is the worst sin for the modern church.

  56. Xenia says:

    but what really needs to take place is the education of the laity about what a church really is.<<<

    Well, for many American Christians the Church is nothing but the "Great Parentheses," God's Plan B, where Christ does not meet the people in the Sacraments.

  57. Michael says:


    Yes on both counts.
    An re-examination of this text is in order as well;

    “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
    For the body does not consist of one member but of many.If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.If all were a single member, where would the body be?As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
    The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
    (1 Corinthians 12:12–26 ESV)

  58. Xenia says:

    The doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved” is also a stumbling block, IMO. Why strive to achieve a life of personal holiness if (A) you are being told you are legalistic to even try and (B) it doesn’t matter what you do, you are going to heaven anyway, maybe just missing a few crowns…

    Just think about all the fallen pastors Michael has reported on here and how many people (usually visitors) are quick to defend the adulterer/ pervert/ abuser because Who are we to throw stones, Grace covers everything, He’s a great teacher (of what?) and so forth. We are frustrated at this attitude but these people are just being true to what they have been taught in their churches. This is American Christianity as taught today: Say the Sinner’s Prayer, read your Bible, and (as a subtext) do what you want because you are going to go to heaven anyway, and to adhere to any kind of morality code is legalism which is the biggest sin of them all.

  59. Michael says:

    Lest I be accused of tunnel vision in indicting evangelicals, my own communion is a dumpster fire as well.
    I don’t know any that aren’t at the moment…

  60. Xenia says:

    I think the devil (yes,the devil) uses different approaches with different groups.

    1. Anti-authoritarianism works with American evangelicals
    2. Ethnic pride works with the Orthodox
    3. The idea that reason trumps the Scriptures works with the liberals, which causes them to suppose they love humanity more than God does.
    4. Love of power works with the Roman Catholics.

  61. Mud Man says:

    Overall I believe Michael is correct. But, I argue that it goes back way further than the current crisis in the SBC.

    Our western model of church and religion has its very roots in providing a service for individuals. A service having some spiritual head, shama, priest or any other name given to an individual(s) who claim to have a superior connection and knowledge with the other side (gods/God).

    It seems to be a generality humans want someone else to pick up the spiritual slack and let them know what needs to be done to make their connection correct. Humans voluntarily give their rights and positional relationship with the creator to another person. And that always eventually leads to abuse.

    Even the biblical narrative has the people actually hear God give the 10 commandments at His mountain (before they were written on stone) and their response is fear. They tell Moses to speak to God and tell them what He says.

    And how often does general humanity actually side with the abuser(s) and say (or at least think) things like, “they had it coming to them,” and then remain silent. We all know of such examples and maybe even participate directly in them.

    The SBC won’t change because humans won’t change and sadly each generation has to learn it all over again. We have short memories and think we are somehow better than those who went before us.

    Thanks Michael for the reminder of who we are. You do trigger a bunch of self examination. Thumbs up!

  62. Xenia says:

    The “anti-authoritarianism” of the evangelicals is paradoxical because they often are the ones who end up with the most authoritarian pastors. But at least they aren’t beholding to some hierarchy!

  63. Michael says:

    Mud Man,

    Excellent points…

  64. Michael says:


    I concur!

  65. Duane Arnold says:

    Part of the problem remains that if you accuse the abuser, you also accuse the structure that allowed the abuser to abuse. Those who are vested in the structure, defend the structure which they perceive as being under attack. The abuser can be sacrificed, unless the abuser is also vested in the structure, in which case they must be defended or, at least, sidelined for a time. The problem is literally systemic. Unless the system is changed, nothing will change… and that is across the board from Evangelicals to Anglicans to RCs…

  66. Michael says:

    Duane nailed a big piece of this…

  67. Em says:

    A different perspective… “Train up a child in the way he should go…..”.
    The first 2 /3 of the 20th century was special for children. Movies and then TV were idealistic. We had children maturing in this nation steeped in respect for honesty and integrity. The white hats always won over the black hats in the end. Good trumps evil.
    Guess what? Church people come out of our population pool and today’s youngsters are steeped in compromise – no absolutes, not in any public arena. Reasons are excuses. Are they?
    At least that is how it looks to me this morning

  68. Mud Man says:


    While I agree I know the system won’t change it will only get new curtains and furniture.

    The SBC has a government structure based on the authority of the local church to decide how its business will be conducted. I’m sure this was in response to the central authoritarian structure of the traditional denominations.

    Calvary Chapel went even further and centralized the authority in one person, a mini-pope so to speak (Moses model) that hears for God (maybe god) and speaks to the he people.

    I would even submit that CCs structure is clearly attractive to those men who seek the attention and authority and take advantage of those who willing give up their rights of relationship.

    History shows nothing will change, except how we personally go about our daily lives.

  69. Duane Arnold says:

    Mud Man

    Yes, I agree, but I”ll maintain the issue is systemic. When one is committed, for whatever reason (money, power, authority) to defending a system’s status quo, mere individuals (abusers and the abused) can be sacrificed for the so-called “greater good”. It is typified by the typical statement that, “we might have a few bad apples, but look at all the good we are doing”. The real question is, “How did our system allow the abuser to abuse and what are we going to do about that system?” I don’t hear that question being asked…

  70. Lots of good points here. More productive direction, I think. A coupleof small points I will make:

    “An entrepreneur and a shepherd have different job descriptions with different expected outcomes.”

    I would bet 90% of SBC churches follow the Shepherd model. Not the most famous, maybe, but far and away the majority.

    I disagree with Xenia on two counts – I do not believe dispensationalists or OSAS folks are any more prone to abuse than others.

    Other than that, all good thoughts. Educating the laity is absolutely the answer, but that doesn’t look like denominational change, top-down. That is ground level-up change, which is absolutely what is needed.

  71. Xenia says:

    I do not believe dispensationalists or OSAS folks are any more prone to abuse than others.<<<

    I believe the devil uses what works. In my experience, OSAS worked well with evangelicals. Won't work with Catholics or Orthodox so well; our carnal natures get activated with other bait.

  72. E says:

    Agreeing that there in goid food for thought on this thread…
    But i have a question for all those here, who are much more in the know than i am…
    Exactly how does a pew sitter find a pastor who is focused on the Faith, not on catering to itching ears?
    My guess is that he wont seem that likeable at first – dunno

  73. Em says:

    Agreeing that there in goid food for thought on this thread…
    But i have a question for all those here, who are much more in the know than i am…
    Exactly how does a pew sitter find a pastor who is focused on the Faith, not on catering to itching ears?
    My guess is that he wont seem that likeable at first – dunno

    Just got a comment on this screen that i am posting too quickly – “slow down”. Say what? ?

  74. I disagree, E. I think he is very likable, but maybe not very impressive.

    How does one find that? Wow, that’s tough.

    Personal responsibility for growth and knowledge of the Scriptures is certainly key. Still, a guy can sound great and have some secret insidious evil going on. Yeah, it’s tough.

  75. Em says:

    Okay.. I’ve confused the internet… ? me too

    Hope someone erases my double post … Blush

  76. Xenia says:

    a pew sitter<<<

    Maybe start by losing this term, and I am not talking about physical furniture.

    It suggests a passivity that allows abuse to happen.

  77. Duane Arnold says:


    Don’t listen to how well he preaches (or how badly). Likeability is subjective, some pastors are like broccoli – an acquired taste.

    I would look for four things:
    1. What is he like in terms of pastoral care – death, family crisis, hospital, nursing home, etc.?
    2. Does he have a private devotional life – prayer, study, what he is reading, etc.?
    3. Does he have collegial relationships with fellow pastors or is he a “lone wolf”?
    4. Who is (or was) his mentor(s)?

    This will tell you a good deal that you might want to know…

  78. Em says:

    Yes, Xenia, pew sitter does not connote responsibility for anything…
    a good church will include participation for everyone in the economy of the fellowship – many ushers and nursery workers are underutilized, their gifts discarded and many are disrespected who are gifted for such tasks. The highest gift? Why to be one of the pastor’s yes men, of course! Hmmm…..

  79. Em says:

    Thank you, Dr. Duane… F ood for thought indeed

  80. “Don’t listen to how well he preaches (or how badly)”

    But the content of his preaching is crucial.

  81. Duane Arnold says:


    Indeed. I’m talking about style, not substance…

  82. You guys probably aren’t hearing much about Mark Harris outside of NC. Former pastor of 1st Baptist Charlotte decided to run for office…this story is just unreal.

    Anyhow, more good press for SBC pastors 🙂

  83. London says:

    Decided to run for office for which he’s being accused of cheating and now the NC courts are saying the election must be held again because of it.
    It’s all over Twitter.

  84. London says:

    Oh, that was about Mark Harris.

  85. Randy Davis says:

    Churches should make sure that they are right with God and receptive to the work of the Holy Spirit. The church next to me was the kind of church who substituted the Holy Spirit with emotionalism. They wanted a pastor that excited them, slapped the on the back, and talked in pious language-hello brother, etc. the pastor who was there when I came into the community was such a man. It turns out that he was rapeing teenage girls in his bedroom while his wife washed the dishes.

    My church split from that church almost 70 years ago. I preached expository sermons week in and week out for 27 years. My regret is I never saw change among them. Half of the deacons were adulterous. Many were crooked in their business and at least one was a sexual harasser for fun, as if it was a joke. I was harder headed than they and I kept my course. I did not visit women in their home alone. I did not see women in my office without our secretary or my wife present. I did not hug for the most part.

    Churches need to examine their internal life as much as the pastor does. If the church acts like the world and you get a pastor of low character, he my find himself it great temptation. The church needs to encourage godliness, real godliness and not just rule keeping. The church can create an environment where a predator can come in and take advantage of the church. Whether that is a pastor or a layperson. We must be wise to these kinds of thing.

  86. London – yep. And he got caught because his son testified against him. This is some soap opera level drama.

  87. Jean says:

    While not personally experiencing the concerns expressed here, I have a wife and friends who have suffered because of these church scandals. Thus I have racked my brain for potential solutions. Though I haven’t come up with a single fits-all-sizes solution, I think the following best practices who go a long way:

    (1) A congregation should have a relatively detailed confession of faith to which both the pastor and the laity should subscribed for membership in the congregation. This would protect the laity from a pastor who’s theology meanders from what he first represented, and would protect the pastor from small group leaders or other influential laity who might bring false teaching into the congregation.

    (2) There should be maximum financial transparency and accounting checks-and-balances, regarding all monetary issues. The church treasury should be no one’s piggy bank or trust fund.

    (3) The pastor should be accountable to an independent (1) board of elders elected by the congregation or (2) an episcopal (or something similar) clergy. This would protect both the pastor and the laity. I think pastors should only be in jeopardy of removal for defined causes, such as manifest moral failure, drug or alcohol abuse, false teaching, etc.

    None of these is a silver bullet or guarantees that a scandal will not arise, but IMO they all make perfect sense for a congregation and could prevent a lot of problems.

  88. bob1 says:

    I like your suggestions, Jean…

    Except #1. It’s pretty naive to think a written confession of faith will stem from everyone being on the same page theologially. . There are plenty of churches — tens of thousands, I’d guess — who experience abuse
    even if there’s an “errant” Bible study in the congregation or if everyone assents to what’s on a piece of paper — ie, a confession of faith.

    An orthodox belie/confession guarantees very little. In an ideal world, it should count for a lot more.

    But, to quote Luther, Xns are saint AND sinner. Hence there need to be more safeguards than what you’ve outlined. IMHO.

  89. Jean says:

    bob1, I’m speaking from experience about #1.

    I would be open to other safeguards. What other safeguards do you suggest?

  90. None of this is different than how denying and even protecting abuse plays out in the secular world or in families. The Narcissistic Family System reacts to protect itself, at the expense of the individuals. I experienced it playing out when I reported my teen ex- brother in law about my daughter. In talking to my ex later, she raised concerns to her mother and was told she was crazy. Grandma could have taken simple steps to fix things but failed to do so. Admitting there might be an issue threatened the family dynamic: matriarch and patriarch. I was told, “you never question the eldest male as he’s the Leader.” And secondly, the eldest female.

    I think of it like, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

    If you don’t provide for your own family, then you are worse than the unbelievers, and providing for means protecting (providing safety for those in your charge). That’s a grave charge.

  91. bob1 says:


    Human nature being what it is, there are no sure safeguards.

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