Latest

Leadershipcoaching Campaignssnipe

Archives


Porn and the church staff

Jake Larson » God Scripture Church Church Leadership Gospel Counseling Sin

If a church staff member is dealing with a porn issue, how should it be handled? The following is not a list or rules, so much as some pointers in how you can approach the issue when it comes up.

Plan to deal with porn

Every day, pastors and leadership boards have to make decisions on how to handle the discovery that a staff person is struggling with porn. Most people are not equipped to deal with this issue and, as a consequence, radical mistakes are made every day.

I believe it is critical for pastors and leadership teams to think through their response to sexual sin prior to circumstances that require a plan. We always do better when we are actively prepared, and I would rather be proactive than reactive in dealing with sexual sin. You can fly by the seat of your pants, or you can start talking and thinking about this now—it will be something you have to handle with one of your staff members soon.

Who condemns?

Two thousand years ago, the early church members didn’t have computers with internet connections and weren’t dealing with this exact situation, but there is much wisdom to be gleaned from Scripture and how it reflects the dynamic between law and grace. One great story that highlights this is that of the woman caught in the act of adultery. She is brought before Jesus by the religious law keepers who ask Jesus what he thinks should be done with this woman in hopes of hearing a heretical response. They keep badgering Jesus until he answers their question: “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).

And then the room went quiet! One by one, the law keepers walked away after they were forced to grapple with their own sinfulness. Within minutes, there was no one left to condemn the woman except Jesus. The only person who was without sin and therefore eligible to stone the woman was Jesus. His response to her is life changing.

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

John 8:10–11

Jesus’ response should give us a framework for how to deal with someone on your own church staff who’s been caught in sexual sin.

A question of law versus grace

First, remember that the way you deal with a staff member’s sexual sin will communicate to the church how you will deal with them. Is your church driven by grace or law?

In an environment driven by the law, there are no excuses, no second chances, and no explanations needed. If you break the moral conduct code, you are condemned. If you break the moral conduct code, you are stoned. Now, the Bible is clear (especially in Matthew 18:15–20) that, when confronting sin, we are to go to the person and offer them a chance to repent. If the person is willing to listen, then we’ve gained a brother, and we walk with them on the path of conviction, confession, repentance, and ultimately reconciliation.

Tragically, some churches do not offer this opportunity to the offender, instead turning up their noses at the person’s sin (and deeming it grosser than their own), and abandon the sinner at his time of greatest need. In fact, we are not to condemn (Luke 6:37), and while all who don’t believe in Christ are “condemned already” because of sin (John 3:17–18), there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1), who removes all sin (1 John 1:7). Moreover, the Bible outlines a much different path, one where we in the body walk with our brothers and sisters in their reconciliation.

Even before we’ve changed, Jesus offers us his grace to save us from our sin.

Going back to the example of the woman caught in sin, notice that Jesus does not ignore or discount the seriousness of her sin. Instead Jesus directs her to a new way of living. I would imagine the woman is shocked by his response. She has never been in the presence of such grace and love. Jesus doesn’t remove all the consequences of her behavior but he does embrace the hope in him for her, and he invites her to a new life.

Sin may leave scars, but Jesus’ grace always restores the future. Without Jesus, sin always equals death under the law; however, through Jesus’ cross, we are released from death under the law and offered forgiveness. While we are still actively sinning, Jesus offers us his love and forgiveness. Even before we have changed, he offers us his grace to save us from our sin. This grace changes the entire trajectory of our lives.

3 ways to deal

There are numerous principles we can draw out of this example, but here are a few related to dealing with sin among a staff member.

1. Lead with grace and respect

Chances are you may only be one bad decision away from sitting in his or her seat. Remember, all have sinned, all have failed, and all are capable. Lead with grace and a heart for healing and restoration. (And if you aren’t into grace and restoration, then find a new job!)

Jesus not only gives us a fresh start so we can change, he completely saves us from sin even before we experience transformation. That is grace!

2. Provide resources and demand accountability

Give the staff member a road to walk to experience freedom from the struggle. Build a plan with accountability. Say to the staff person (again, drawing on the process laid out in Matthew 18:15–20) “If you are unwilling to take the steps we have laid out today, you will no longer work here. However, this plan may also lead you to stay on staff and become the person God desires for you.” When you lead with grace and respect you keep the communication door open. Work strategically with this staff member on a plan and assist financially if that plan costs money. Go out of your way to help (Col. 3:13).

Every plan must come with heavy accountability. Who is going to walk with this staff member now and in the months to come? Without the help of others and ongoing accountability relapse is likely. Everyone needs to walk through life with others and be accountable for their actions—this is a gift for each person walking the road to recovery.

In Jesus, we are more than conquerors.

3. Celebrate victories

If they walk the walk and achieve growth and healing, celebrate their victory (2 Cor. 13:11). Counsel them through new ways God may use their story to impact others who have fallen or are in the depths of pornography addiction. Every person has been changed to help bring change. Many people have a tendency to hide their journey from others and never speak of the radical change God has orchestrated in their lives. We desperately need to hear stories of success. Allow others who are struggling to see that in Jesus, we are more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37) and it is possible to overcome the beast of pornography.

Every situation is different, but whether or not everyone is restored to the positions they had, God can and does completely restore people who sin (i.e. all of us) and he uses broken, bruised, and struggling people to bring glory to his name and for his kingdom.


« Newer Older »