Albert Mohler gives advice to churches who have lost a pastor due to moral failure.
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I think there are probably few more heartbreaking words than the words that come to a Christian congregation that they’ve lost their pastor due to moral failure. And that moral failure could be any number of sins, but let’s face it, all too often it’s the sins of the flesh––lust, adultery, and other kinds of sexual sin. It’s simply a breathtaking heartbreak, there’s no way around it.
One of the things that it should immediately do is to humble us to recognize that the Lord has not given us pastors who are somehow a different class of human beings than the rest of us. And that’s one of the reasons why I think the Scripture is so clear that those who teach will be held to a higher standard (Jam. 3:1). And that’s why, biblically, we are to surround ourselves with concentric rings of accountability, and we are to guard our heart. But the reality is that from the beginning of the Christian Church until Jesus comes, from time to time, spiritual warfare being what it is, Satan being who he is, a fallen world being what it is, sin being as powerful as it is, this will happen. And this must drive that church, that congregation, to its knees in prayer.
It’s a deeply humbling experience. But if the church is about a pastor then it’s absolute unmitigated final catastrophe. But if the church isn’t about the pastor, it’s about the Lord Jesus Christ, then there’s work to be done. And so in grieving and in heartbreak, in taking care of all of its responsibilities, both to the pastor who has sinned, and to anyone who, of course, will be many affected by that sin, then the church needs to remember we are here as a people of the gospel for the teaching and preaching and taking of the gospel.
For a community being shaped together under the word into conformity to the image of Christ, we’ve got to bind up the wounded, we got to make sure the Word of God is preached. And we’ve got to pray for our pastor, for all those who hold the teaching office and the spiritual leadership of the church, lest they or lest we also fall.