Ignore Restore Them.
We started the week with a discussion on sin. Specifically as it pertains to pastors and elders. We established that these men aren’t perfect. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised if they fall into sin at some point in their leadership. (Click HERE to read this post.)
But what happens after that sin takes place? What are the next steps?
This is a crossroads of sorts.
Public or Private?
“But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favouritism.” (1 Tim. 5:20-21)
And yet, the temptation is to silence the issue and manage it secretly among the other church leaders or worse, long-time church stakeholders.
Come on, he and I are fishing buddies! He’s been in our church for years! Everybody loves the guy! Surely we can let his sin pass? Let’s just keep this quiet. No one needs to know about this. We’ll handle it.
And yet, Paul’s words to Timothy aren’t new suggestions. Even in Timothy’s day, there was clearly a temptation to keep a leader’s sin quiet. Nevertheless, dealing with the sin appropriately was not an optional principle.
No partiality, no favouritism is permitted.
Paul’s charge in the sight of the Lord is clear; that Pastor Timothy is not allowed to waiver from these instructions. Therefore, the church, even in 2016, can’t waiver from these instructions either.
This goes for sins of omission as well. Look at verse 22:
“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” (1 Tim. 5:22)
Paul’s words cause us to check our facts before we commission a formal agreement with another minister, ministry or Christian entity. Do we know what their life entails? Are they currently in a secret spiral of sin that could hurt the Kingdom work of the church?
If so, and church leadership is too hasty in commissioning them, they’re accountable. This is all part of pastor-elder responsibility.
When the Pastor Sins
What if a pastor or an elder does sin? What then? Is he kicked out of leadership forever? Is he shunned from ministry forever?
Nope, that would be a tragic mistake.
If the sin is severe and has had an impact on the Body, there may be a time of healing for the pastor or elder, and the church for that matter. However, we can’t take away that he still must be honoured (based on 1 Tim. 5:17-18) for his position.
And let’s face it; a pastor or elder who’s willing to stand in front of the church, confess his sin and ask forgiveness deserves to be honoured on some level. For me, that’s double honour all day long!
Just like any sinner, the goal is restoration.
If the sin is personal and not far-reaching in damage, then the pastor-elder team can hold him accountable to make sure he doesn’t fall into that sin again. And there’s no reason why that elder can’t still serve in leadership.
All of which, will spread like wildfire through a church, after their leaders have shown them the outcome.