Monday, May 23, 2011

Church Discipline for Pastors

Question received:

If a pastor at one church leaves his wife for a married woman and has to leave his church, can he go to another church and start being a prominent figure as in being in the praise band? the pastor of the second church gave him "steps" to take for repentance as says its ok even though he continued to date the 2nd women.

My Answers:

Wow! That is a lot of questions and biblical topics in just two sentences. This is a tragic situation described. Unfortunately this is a situation familiar to many. The Lord in his providence does provide us help in the Word in biblical theology and actual incidents recorded in Scripture. We will break each question down and then answer them.

#1 You are asking about how a sexual sin should be disciplined, especially when a pastor is the offender?
First read 1st Timothy 5:19 ESV " Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses."
Make sure you have a valid accusation against anybody especially a pastor. You can destroy a church with a false witness and be judged by man and the Lord.
Their is an order in how to proceed with flagrant unrepentant sin against God.
Matthew 18:15-17 ESV " 15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

Your goal is to "gain your brother" as he repents and puts away his godless lifestyle. This has to be handle in love and concern for your brother. Self righteousness will hurt you, the pastor and the church. You want the victory for all.
If the pastor does not heed the discipline treat him like "a Gentile and a tax collector." In other words-cut him of-excommunicate him. If he is a Christian he will hate to be cut of from the body of Christ. Excommunication could lead him to repentance or perhaps salvation.

#2 Who can participate in the "praise band", and is it really a prominent position?
My question in an answer to you is, When did being in a "praise band" get to be a prominent position?
"Praise Band " membership is what? Someone who bangs a tambourine with there palm? Toots a horn? This is a church problem when people who should be participating in worship are being exalted for their worship style in entertaining, not worshipping the Lord. There is a a worship leader in church, it is the senior pastor. Why? Worship is built on and around the Word of God. I have seen the unsaved asked to play music in church. Is it wrong? Not if they are humble and respectful. They are not making any claims of faith. To make rock stars out of church worshipers is insane.
You need to make sure if the pastor was guilty if he has repented or has been saved since the adultery. We need to make sure if he is under church discipline, not if he plays the triangle during "Shout to the Lord".

#3 Can this man be restored as a pastor?
I think the man can be restored by a long and lengthy discipleship drenched in biblical repentance, openness and humbleness led by an elder pastor. He would have to accept a total loss of his previous status in ministry. Yes we have seen TV charlatans bounce around and declare themselves restored. This is a good example why a church government is so important. Yes the often put down denominations usually have sound biblical ways to discipline a erring pastor.


#5 Should this man still be dating the woman he had an adulteress affair with?
Again, is the pastor guilty of adultery?
Did he repent and try to reconcile with his wife?
If after a long period of time and after repentance and his wife taking her right to biblically divorce him - THEN the
fallen man is free to pursue Godly relationships.
David did marry Bathsheba
though their union cost them much.

Know you are right in any accusations against anyone even a pastor.
Proceed with biblical conviction and love for the sinner and all envolved.
Trust a biblical church government to discipline a fallen pastor.
If a man follows biblical steps to restoration he may marry.
Beware of charlatans who declare themselves restored and do what is right in their own eyes.

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