It’s been a difficult few years, watching Christian leaders who have greatly impacted and inspired my faith implode in very public ways. Abuse, sexual misconduct, sketchy finances, anger and control, pride, and misdirection have all played a part as the stories have unfolded.
I could name names, but also, why bother? There are too many to name now. Some very “known” leaders and some more personal relationships in my own Christian circles. You surely have your own list.
I’m angry. Tired. Disheartened. And so very sad. But one thing I am not is confused. Many have been asking, “How could this have happened?” but it doesn’t take much of a look into the inner workings of these organizations to identify cultures that did not allow questioning a leader, very little meaningful accountability, protecting the leader and discrediting victims or dissenters.
There is a toxicity at the very heart of evangelicalism, as this continues to happen over and over. The story is growing tired and the problem isn’t going away as we continue to make a mockery of ourselves in the public sphere. Is there any wonder people don’t want to go to church anymore, send their child to a Christian program that may abuse them, or work in Christian environments that violate basic human resources policies?
Make no mistake- we must put in measures to stop this from within. Policies. Procedures. Accountabilities. There are things we must learn closely from how others have not done it right. We can and must do better if the North American church will survive another century. (Don’t take that to mean I despair for the global church- it is thriving in all kinds of ways in China, Middle East, and South America)
But policies alone cannot stop this. Ultimately this is a sin issue. This is a question of loves- do we love our sin nature or do we love God more? If we do not love Him first as leaders, if we do not seek Him every day on our own, in private spaces and humble living, we are only spreading more of ourselves, when people desperately need the fragrance of Christ. We are all guilty, and we are all vulnerable to sins that affect ourselves and others.
Christian leader- do not forsake your first love. Remember why you started. Seek the Lord while there is time. Follow the rhythms and practices of Jesus’ lifestyle of times away and times in the crowd. Serve the Lord and let others into your life to care for you as Christ does.
The Kingdom of God is near!