I have been involved in dealing with a number of cases involving sexual predation and exploitation by church leaders – in all kinds of churches (including “organic” or “simple” churches which naively think they are immune from this kind of abuse).
My wife and I have also done pastoral counseling, over the years, with literally hundreds of sex abuse survivors – as well as many abusers who seek help after truly confessing and openly repenting.
One thing I see over and over – especially by predatory church leaders – is the same kind of initial “grooming” behavior. It is amazing how sexually exploitive men in “ministry” all seem to use the same methods.
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”!
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:5-9 (KJV)
“Peace if possible, truth at all costs.” – Martin Luther
“Church” can often be messy, especially when ongoing sins and improprieties begin to come to light – maybe even among our leaders. Yet God, I believe, is calling us all to a new level of collective integrity.
So how do we handle leadership failings, especially when they go beyond merely personal sin and involve an abuse of position or trust within a church, movement or mission, and hurts others?