I feel sorry for those who claim the mantle of “Pastor” – a position and a title never bestowed on anyone anywhere in the New Testament. For example, where did Paul or anyone else ever appoint or recognize a “pastor” over a church?
Over the decades, I’ve seen great dis-functionality among such men and women. They are operating within a framework, and on assumptions and traditions, that God never ordained.
How can someone seriously believe that the Lord intends for anyone to bear that burden or take on such prerogatives over His people? It can’t help but twist you, and eventually you will fail.
So you’ve tried to follow the procedure of 1 Tim. 5, as discussed in Part 3 of this series, by investigating and exposing church leaders who abused their positions of power and trust.
But what if you were rebuffed?
Or what if – despite public reprimand, confession and repentance – you reasonably fear that they may continue preying on others or the church is not providing restitution for the harm you’ve been bearing? Scripturally, do you have additional options?
More specifically, is it ever proper to seek help from the courts and secular authorities to deal with pastoral sexual abuse or churches which allowed it to happen? After all, doesn’t 1 Cor. 6 say we should not sue another brother?
How should we react to an unrepentant pastor who’s used his position of trust and power to prey on women – often after turning to him for spiritual counsel and support during vulnerable times in their lives?
All the theory in the world is great. But one thing I’ve learned from experience is this: Those who want to help these women find justice and closure, and protect others, need an unflinching resolve to stand toe to toe against these predators.
Typically, a predatory pastor is not accustomed to being questioned or challenged by anyone. He often will try to deflect accountability either through intimidation or a charm offensive – or both! These men are master manipulators, and it takes a God-given strength of will to stand firm, force answers, stop the abuse, and expose their evil as a warning to others.
Much to my dismay, God keeps bringing people to my door who have been abused by a pastor or other trusted church leader.
Over the last year, I’ve taken on three cases against abusive pastors. Two involve significant embezzlement and fraud by pastors in different churches. A third involves extensive sexual abuse and misconduct by around half a dozen men on the pastoral and ministerial staff at Christ Chapel Assembly of God in Woodbridge, Virginia.
Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! In this PowerPoint presentation, all that you think of as “church” is about to be challenged so God can woo us back to being, once more, the multi-faceted, wonderful, exciting Body of Christ.
Recent events forced me to confront the troubling truth that “church” for the last several decades has been a habitually disappointing part of my spiritual journey. This could be saying more about me than about the state of the church, except that I hear the same lament from many other believers.
New Covenant Fellowship in Manassas, Virginia, started out as a great church twenty-five years ago under a gifted pastor who’s since left. Under the current “pastor/elders” (the term they choose for themselves), massive numbers of additional people have left as the church sinks into cult practices and cult doctrines. As a result, attendance has plunged from thousands to barely thirty adults on Sunday mornings.
- Robin Bayles, the senior “pastor/elder”, has been secretly enriching himself with around $200k annually from church funds for a sizable salary, a generous housing allowance, numerous benefits and various other perks amounting to somewhere around a million dollars in total over the last several years — despite the tiny size of the congregation and the fact that he doesn’t even work at the church but works for an unrelated organization. When his self-enrichment was exposed, he denied it and falsely claimed to have taken only a small fraction of the true amount.
- He has personally acquired and gained wealth from numerous investment rental properties purchased with funds taken from the church. He also has been employed nearly full time for many years — and earns a significant income — from his separate employer. Nonetheless, he has tried to manipulate his shrinking congregation and justify his self-enrichment from church funds with false pleas of poverty.
Yup. It’s true. In 2009, I was “disfellowshipped” from New Covenant Fellowship in Manassas, Virginia – and in an odd sort of way I felt deeply honored!
I first posted this for a few months on my old blog in 2009, but decided to dust it off and make it public once again under its original publication date. Fortunately, it migrated over – with its original publication date and original comments still preserved – when I set up this new blog in late 2009.
I’m re-posting my story because many others have experienced similar fates as they try to deal with abusive leaders who hide their leadership sins behind a wall of unaccountability and by intimidating – and then expelling – all voices of integrity from their church.
I hope my experience encourages others to have the courage to raise legitimate concerns under Biblical procedures, even if it means being kicked out of your church. Stand firm, because there is life after “excommunication”!
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in Virginia, but I’m stuck with a lingering cold and sore throat. That gives me a good excuse to skip church and my ministry commitments later this afternoon in the local jail.
So what to do? I just let my ADD dog out and he’s happily occupied digging a new hole in my otherwise nice green yard, there’s some good coffee brewing (I’m partial to Gold Coast from Starbucks – two level scoops per 14 oz.), the light of a crisp blue March sky is streaming through my sun room windows, my favorite worship music is playing in the background on my iPod, and I’m relaxing in my over-sized Lazy Boy recliner thinking on the things of God.
I guess that makes this as good a time as any to bang out some thoughts on effective New Testament leadership.