From: Relevant Magazine writer Fred Antonelli
The real unspoken matter in the room isn’t sin—it’s a double standard.
A group of about 50 pastors, teachers and counselors congregated in Annapolis, MD on October 17—but this wasn’t a leadership forum. It was more like an AA meeting, in which Christian leaders opened up about their own mess-ups and mistakes.
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Among them were bestselling author and pastor Ed Gungor, pastors Ted and Gayle Haggard and Ruth Graham, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham—all of whom told their stories through the good, the bad and the ugly.
Ruth Graham says about the event, “Each one [of us] had a story–we all do–some are messier than others but they are all messy–like mine. So many shared from their pain, their hearts–not for the sake of themselves but to showcase the outrageous grace of God.”
These leaders were there to talk about something Christian leaders have struggled with for a long time: How can the Church restore its “fallen” leaders? How do we reconcile the Christian theology of a reign of grace with the practical need to hold a higher standard for our leaders? And what might a New Testament model look like for Christlike, follow-through care for those who have fallen into sin?
These were the questions on the table at the Roundtable on Life-Giving Leadership—which is now spurring more roundtables like it across the country.
At the tip of the spear on this subject are Ted and Gayle Haggard, pastors of St. James Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Many know of Ted Haggard’s journey from president of the National Association of Evangelicals and mega church pastor of New Life Church to the sexual scandal uncovered in 2006. After years of intensive recovery in his ministry and marriage, Haggard is eager to bring this truth-filled message of restorative healing to the forefront of the Church’s mission today.
According to Haggard, the restorative process that was initially put together for him seemed “confusing, counterproductive and at times, even hopeless.”
“Actually,” Haggard says, “There were no provisions for restoration, only removal.”
The Haggards have worked hard throughout the past seven years in re-establishing—through clinical Christian counseling, deep family commitment and devotion to the Bible—a stronger foundation upon which they are building their lives, faith and ministry.
The Haggards may be a well-known story of sin and recovery, but there are many other Christians in ministry struggling under the same weight of sin issues and leadership responsibility. And the question then becomes: How can the Church reach and restore them?