As many of you know, about 3 years ago Jessica and I started on a journey to plant a church in downtown Decatur. And, as many of you know, that church is no longer in existence. While this was a particularly painful experience, and one that I don’t care to repeat, I was reminded yesterday of how thankful I am for having come through it, and not just through it, but through it with my family intact (80% of Church Planters end up divorced, or so I have been told, keep reading…).
When I first started my church planting journey I took a job as a Church Planting Intern at a local Mega-Church. It seemed like a dream come true. To date (to my knowledge) I am one of six or so men to hold this position at this particular church. Of the three that held the position before me, two of them had gone on to start very large and thriving churches and one was having a lot of success in a para-church ministry.
About a year ago I found out that one of the successful former interns had fallen into adultery and lost his family. Yesterday I found out that the other particularly successful intern had also fallen into adultery.
So, today, I find myself profoundly thankful to have my wonderful wife still by my side, even through the profound and difficult time that was our church planting experience. I also find myself asking questions. How does something like this happen? How does this happen without people noticing? And, how can it be prevented?
It probably should be noted that the church that I interned at had very strict policies to help protect its staff from adultery. Their policies were things like, if you are alone with a woman you have to have your office door open at all times. These policies were generally good, but ultimately ineffective because they couldn’t deal with the whole issue.
The thing about policies is that they effect behavior, not motivation. It’s the heart that causes someone to step into sin, and no policy is going to change someone’s heart.
So, how do we prevent sin within the Church? The answer is simple enough, but difficult to execute. Community. More specifically, deep Christ centered community providing mutual accountability. The Church. The kind of community that knows you so well that when you are off in sin, they notice, and are willing to bust your chops about it to bring you back. The kind of community that listens to those little nudges of the Holy Spirit and will have a tough conversation with you based on those little nudges. The Church, living as a unit, as a body, willing to ask the tough questions that most of the world discourages.
As I am pondering this I am very sad for these men that have fallen into sin, but thankful that they have come to repentance. I am also thankful for God’s protection over my family, and for the community of believers He has placed us in, a community willing and able to hold us accountable.
I don’t deserve the blessing that I have, I am humbled by it and am thankful for it.