I wrote this nearly two years ago prior to the T4G 2014 conference. A shadow was cast upon that event because of an alleged coverup of child molestation by the leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries. The person in question was convicted, so the abuse was real. However, there were still unanswered questions about how the situation was handled and the lack of accountability of those in authority.
Here we are two years later with another T4G conference slated in April, and recently a pastor “confessed” to a sexual “incident” (his words) with a minor when he was her youth pastor. This was statutory rape. Period. The response of his church to his “confession” was a standing ovation. As a friend put it, “Don’t people realize this was a crime?!”
I wish I didn’t have to ask these question, but I will ask them again.
Several years ago, I would have been thrilled to attend Together 4 the Gospel. I had no pretensions to being a pastor. I would have been happy just working in the bookstore. I was not young or restless, more middle-aged and sedentary, but I was caught up in the excitement of this new movement and would have loved to bask in the reflected glory of the leaders I admired. The thought of being with so many Calvinists, all talking the same talk was very heady stuff. And this was cool and doctrinally “right” to boot.
Having come through a few difficult church situations, I was idealistic enough to believe that selfish ambition and putting an organization ahead of people would never happen. After all, we were Calvinists, and a good solid doctrinal foundation would guard us against such things. But as events have played out over the years and even this week, this has not been the case, and I have been grieved to tears.
It’s true that elders must be able to teach, but that is not all. God does not just call orators. He calls men to lay down their lives for the flock like Jesus did. This is the opposite of self promotion. This is the opposite of putting the reputation of an organization over the well-being of people and failing to pursue justice on their behalf. Sure it’s cool to be part of a huge reformed crowd and get swept away by the excitement, but what happens when the conference is over and you go home to your church? What will you do when a distraught family comes to you and tells you that their child has been molested by a church worker? What will you do when a woman can’t keep up the charade any longer and confesses that her husband is an abuser? All the buzzwords and carefully crafted speeches about shepherding your people well and being men who lead and defend their wives and children aren’t worth squat if the widows and orphans are ignored in your congregations. May God protect churches from wolves in sheep’s clothing who prey on the innocent, but tragically this is not always the case. If the unthinkable happens, whose example will you follow? What will you do?
For those who say this is none of my business, you are free to express your opinion. I will refrain when parachurch organizations stop trying to hold me accountable to their teachings while holding themselves above accountability for their words, actions, and inaction. I say this as an “older” woman who is probably old enough to be the mother of young pastors and young men desiring to go into ministry. I say this as a sister-in-Christ who has witnessed church leaders sacrificially serving the local body and me in particular. These are the men I hold in high esteem because I have seen them get their hands dirty and take a lower place for the sake of others.
No one of importance may read this, and I’m not expecting otherwise. But I ask again of my younger brothers – Whose example will you follow? What will you do?
This post first appeared on Persis’s personal blog TriedWithFire