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List of Fallen Pastors | Provoketive Magazine
07 Mar 2012

The Author

I am author of the book, "Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World" from Civitas Press. I also contributed an essay to “The Practice of Love: Real Stories of Living Into the Kingdom of God,” under my pseudonym Arthur Dimmesdale. By trade, I am a certified athletic trainer.

I am keenly interested in the theme of redemption and seeing it play out in the Christian community. I'm also intrigued how tragedy affects Christians and how we view it in relationship with the cross. My theology is somewhere between Asahel Nettleton and Bruce Ware.

I'm originally from Arkansas but currently reside in Western Kentucky. I am a husband to my beautiful wife Allison, and a father to three.


List of Fallen Pastors

On my blog at www.fallenpastor.com, WordPress keeps track of how people arrive to my site through search engines. The most searched for word combination is “list of fallen pastors.” It’s not rocket surgery that my site would come up since I wrote a book on the subject of fallen pastors and I am one.

I’ve thought about that for a long time. It has boiled in the back of my cerebral cortex for over a year. Why are people searching for a list of fallen pastors?

There are several types of people who would be looking for that kind of list, I suppose. News outlets, other fallen pastors, people who are judgmental, those outside the church who are looking to brand pastors as hypocrites . . . and the list goes on.

Then I began to ponder – who would have such a list? Is it even possible? There are a lot of pastors in the public eye who have fallen from the ministry. I don’t even have to list their names here. They’ve written books, been shamed by the media, been the object of scorn for decades as how not to act in ministry.

I know of one who has such a functional list of the wretched pastors who fell from ministry. These men who once stood high in the pulpit as I once did and fell due to adultery, financial woe, or other sin.

Who Has a List?

God has that list. He knows of all of our transgressions. But there’s good news. When His people sin and repent, He takes those sins and casts them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). When His people weep over their sin, the bible says he keeps a count of our tossings and our tears, as he traps them in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). God doesn’t keep track of sins like man does. He watches His children as we repent and cast ourselves on Him. He pursues His children when we wander astray like sheep.

That’s what He does with His list.

Who is on the List?

Next question, who is on the list? Who is a fallen pastor? In my book, I shared the statistic that 33% of active pastors admitted to crossing the line of morality and not confessing it. 1,500 pastors a month leave the pastorate due to conflict, moral failure or burnout. There is a crisis at hand. It would seem that all pastors are fallen. All of us are weak and inept at what we do. We are all incapable of meeting the standards of the human built pedestal. Hidden sins, public sins, and personal conflict make each of us weak at some point.

Why stop at pastors? It’s easy to cast a stone at a pastor who has been called by God and placed at the forefront. His is the greater calling. He is called to a higher standard. If any of us needs to remember, we should recall Romans 3:23 that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. None of us meets the gold standard of God’s righteousness.

I’m afraid that there may be a scant few who type in “list of fallen pastors” who are seeking to justify their own hearts. None of us is righteous. All of us are stained with sin. It is inescapable. We are all on the list of the fallen. None of us is perfect.

Good news? The forgiveness, love, mercy and grace that God shows to fallen pastors is the same grace He lavishes upon all who seek His face.

Who Needs the List?

(Thanks to my amazing wife Allison who just reminded me of this point.)

Lets say that this list of fallen pastors existed out there. It doesn’t. But what if it did? Who would it be for? The media? Those who would be able to scorn and be angry at fallen pastors?

Hebrews chapter 11 looks back on the heroes of our faith. Noah. Great guy, built an ark. Got drunk. Abraham, father of Israel, slept with his handmaiden, amongst other things. Moses, great dude. Murderer. David? Did the writer of Hebrews mention David? Really? Great king of Israel. Slept with Bathsheba, killed her husband, had a child by her. He had another child by her. Guess what? That child was in the line of Christ. Hebrews 11 mentions Samson? Really?

I’m afraid we read our bibles selectively. We view people selectively. We show our love and give our disdain selectively.

If someone close to us sins, we tend to show anger. We tend to withhold forgiveness. But Galatians 6:1 tells us that those who are closest to those in transgression are those who are most qualified to restore those who sin.

Who needs the list? The churches of those who fall. Find those who fall. Restore them. Seek them out. Because they are hurting. They are lost. They need light. They need help. Without them, we are an incomplete community. You are a body of Christ without an arm. Go get them. I don’t care if they don’t want to listen to you at first. They are going to be in rebellion and sin. They need your love and patience. They may never listen. If that’s the case, Scripture speaks to that too.

You know who else needs the list? Churches who have fallen pastors wander in looking for a church home. I’ve got a friend who fell from the ministry 10 years ago. He has tried eight different churches. Each time, he has visited these churches for about a month. Then, he goes to the pastor and says, “I like what you’re doing here, I’d like to be a part of it, but let me tell you what I’ve been through.” The second the pastor finds out that he is a fallen minister, he gets arrogant, full of himself and sends him on his way.

For just a moment, I wish Christ would appear in that meeting. To show my friend His love. To show Him that he is worthy of love and care.

I want my friend to be a part of an authentic Christian community. A community who can look at that list and say, “We don’t care where you’ve been. We love you for who you are. You belong to us. We are no better, but we serve the same God.”

  1. Society likes to lift people up, and kick them when they’re down.

    We all have planks in our eyes. We’re all here to help us and support each other, not beat up others.

  2. Oh the depths of the love of God, it is past comprehension. Jesus paid it all, and dealt the death blow once and for all for all sin for all time, that we might be free to know and serve God in a new and living way by the Spirit.

  3. Michael & Tony, you both are dead on. Thanks for the comments.

  4. Might I say that the fallen have experienced something no other has. Forgiveness from God. In addition to that, we are a living testimony to the rest of the believers to allow them to learn to forgive. Yes, I believe that will be our living teaching. No one can learn from teaching better than experience. We must take the blunt of the response and give the example of what it means to forgive. If we cannot forgive we cannot be forgiven. Let us never think it is okay to allow other Christians to put us down or condemn us. Living like Christ did, as having no father, is our destiny no matter what the world thinks. Our testimony has to be able to teach others the principle of forgiveness and, also. living among the forgiven.

    • Bruce, thanks for the comment. I’ve told fallen ministers before that we probably are better preachers now than we were before our adultery. We now know the grace of God and His forgiveness like we never knew before.

      In the times I have been able to preach, God’s love and forgiveness have come to the forefront like never before. It’s been amazing the response I’ve gotten.

  5. I think the singling out of pastors and using the tern “fallen” has subtle if not profound implications. The separate clergy/laity situation leads to isolation for the shepherds, who were designed to live among the flock, in community. This free interaction and open living, helps to defeat darkness so it has a lesser chance of overtaking any of us.

    • You’re right Tony. I was speaking with a pastor a few days ago who had committed adultery. It had been a long time ago. Even in that long period of time, he is still an object of shame and derision in his community. He feels that God still wants to use him in some way, but he is not given any chance by the churches around him. At times, he is faced with not being allowed to be a productive church member because of his past.

      Unfortunately, the search term “fallen pastor” is a common way to refer to those who have committed a sin. That’s not the way God looks at us, He has set us free from our sin. We are clean and have been washed from all unrighteousness. But that’s not the way the world sees us. We will always have to deal with the consequences of our actions.

      I always tell pastors to find a community of faith that will love them, encourage their gifts and allow them to work freely in the capacity God allows them. It is a difficult thing to find in this world. But I thank God that there are churches like that out there, but they are often far and few between.

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