The Collateral Damage From A Youth Pastor’s Sexual Sin

youth group

Last week, Leadership Journal magazine posted an article penned by a youth pastor who groomed, then sexually abused a girl in his youth group. He is now in prison for his crimes. The anonymous article was saturated with a self-pitying tone,  some horrifying reframing of his sin (statutory rape is not an "affair"), and a stunning lack of concern for the young woman upon whom he preyed. It took a couple of very intense days of social media activity by those infuriated by the platform given to a … [Read more...]

Come To The Table (Part 2)

kitchen table

Yesterday, I shared the first half of this fictional story about a once-powerful head pastor who lost his job in an ugly game of church politics. (Click here to read it.) While this story is based in the stories I've heard from those who've been beat up in ministry, it also contains the reason I have hope for those who've built a church or organizational culture around their big personalities and ambitions. When all of the artifice is stripped away - and stripping away is indeed the only way … [Read more...]

Come To The Table (Part 1)

pop tarts

Someone recently asked me who my blog readers are. It seems like many of them fall into two categories: those who've been wounded by the church and leaders of small/mid-sized churches. I told the person asking that I didn't think the two groups were all that different from one another in some core ways. The people in both groups love Jesus. They care at some level about what is happening in the Body of Christ. And each group is looking for some honest companions to share their pilgrim's road … [Read more...]

One regret: Libby Buchanan

sad girl

The conversation turned to regret, as it sometimes does when two middle-aged women are sharing stories of their lives over lunch. A good friend introduced her good friend Libby Buchanan to me, telling me that Libby had a story to share, and was in the process of writing a book about it.Libby does indeed have a story to share. Libby is a survivor of the child pornography industry. She's now an experienced Bible teacher who has penned a manuscript with the working title Treasures of Darkness, … [Read more...]

The almost-apologies of Gothard, Phillips, Mahaney, Driscoll

gothard

Even when the truth comes out about a spiritual leader's secret life, the kinds of lawyered-up semi-confessions that they and their team use to respond to their victims, congregants and the general public seem to be missing a key element: true regret. Leaders like Doug Phillips or Bill Gothard engineer almost-apologies. As I've followed these cases over the last year or so, it strikes me that those apologies are loaded with exit-clause "buts" as a way to leave wiggle room for their defense if … [Read more...]

“The Church is the New Israel”: Ideas Have Consequences

olive tree

Professor Diane Leclerc of Northwest Nazarene University has a piece up on the Christianity Today website called "The Good News About Bad Churches". In it, she asks, "How, then, do we explain the seeming contradiction between what we believe about the church and what we experience in the church? Is it wishful thinking to proclaim the church holy? Are pain and heartache just inevitable?"She goes on to express the tension that exists between that grateful, forgiven kingdom behavior that should … [Read more...]

Bridging The Divide

iakovos-world_council_of_churches_1960_tif1

I used to cringe at the word "ecumenical". It smacked of engineered truces and kumbayah emotions. It conjured images for me of 1960's World Council of Churches meetings and "So a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar" jokes - only the jokes never seemed to have a good punchline since everyone involved in ecumenical dialogue seemed to take themselves as seriously as a heart attack.I much preferred conversations about unity to ecumenism talk because it took me right to Jesus' final prayer for … [Read more...]


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