As I’ve been doing almost every day since the Ashley Madison scandal broke, I got up and ran a quick Google search for “pastor resigns ashley madison -stetzer“. The -stetzer part is because if you try to run a search without that qualifier, you’ll get a bunch of hand-wringing posts from multitudes of Christian sites (and rather mocking non-Christian ones, obviously) quoting Ed Stetzer, who recently came out with the rather startling prediction that today, Sunday August 30th 2015, 400 pastors would be resigning from their posts because they’d turned up on the customer database for the notorious adulterers’ playground.
And so far, I haven’t seen–oh wait. To quote Annie Potts, WE GOT ONE!
Oh wait again. It doesn’t look like the story has a thing to do with Ashley Madison. Looks like Jimmy Gates, pastor of Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, resigned because he’d been taking bribes and had played some role in a mortgage fraud scam. And he wasn’t resigning from his church, but rather from some small local-government panel he’d just been appointed to. Also, it was in July.
Well, heckies. I’d been getting all excited here.
How can Ed Stetzer, one of the biggest names in the biggest denomination in the entire United States, a leader at evangelical media powerhouse Lifeway Research, possibly be wrong about something this important? I double-checked his blog post, and it’s quite clear:
Based on my conversations with leaders from several denominations in the U.S. and Canada, I estimate that at least 400 church leaders (pastors, elders, staff, deacons, etc.) will be resigning Sunday.
At least 400 needs to become the new “OVER 9000” meme, in my opinion. It’s that hilarious to me. The post immediately got picked up by countless outlets and repeated with breathless excitement. But so far there’s been radio silence. And I’m guessing it will continue to stay that way.
Maybe any resignations that happen will be extremely quiet. But it’s getting harder and harder for churches to keep this stuff on the down-low. Out of 400-ish churches seeing a loss of leadership, I’d expect at least a few to leak what happened. Not even Reddit’s got anything here.
So where are all these defected pastors? Where are all these elders, staff, deacons, and other paid ministers who are leaving? Is it just too early still?
Or is Ed Stetzer wrong?
And if he is, what else do you suppose he’s wrong about?