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Saying Goodbye to Our Church Family

March 28, 2009

There was lot of discussion regarding what we should tell our church family about Jeff’s resignation.    Our denominational leaders didn’t want us to share anything about Jeff’s pornography addiction, preferring we request a leave of absence for “family issues” and then later report that we would not be coming back.  Others felt we should be completely transparent and share everything, believing  that when Christians walk in light and truth God is glorifed.

Jeff and I were torn.  On the one hand, we were sensitive to our denominational leaders’ concerns.  We had planted our church just a year earlier and were known well by our community.  We didn’t want that church to be forever known as the one whose pastor was into porn.  We didn’t want to provide the skeptics in our community yet another example of a minister who had been caught in spiritual sin.


But we also knew we couldn’t just leave without explanation.  We loved this congregation and they loved us.  They were our closest friends.  We felt so close to them that we believed they could handle the truth , that their pastor struggled with pornography.  We even believed that Jeff’s confession could shed light on the power of sin and its ability to cause anyone, even their pastor, to struggle.   


In the end, after much prayer, we came up with a compromise.  We met with our church leaders and Jeff told them the entire story.  Their response was just as I expected – they cried with us, they encouraged us and most importantly, they accepted Jeff’s apology and offered him forgiveness. 


Later that week, we had the entire congregation over to our house to share with them that we would be leaving the area.  We explained that our marriage was in trouble and we needed to step out of ministry as we sought the Lord’s healing and direction.    I desperately wanted to tell them more, so they would know the depth of the trouble we were in. 

The last worship service with our church family was the saddest day of my life.  To this day, a year and a half later, my thoughts turn to them every Sunday morning as I worship.  Sometimes my heart is sad, because I miss them so much.  Other times my heart is glad because I know that they are joining me in worshipping the Lord Jesus, just thousands of miles away. But they are always on my heart. 

One Comment
  1. July 9, 2009 12:04 pm

    I must wonder, if he had been suffering from an addiction to alcohol would he have been asked to leave or would his leaders have been pastoral to him and allow themselves and even the congregation to be part of the recovery. The fact that he was being asked to be silent is proof that their response to your familiy’s needs is questionable and that you should be forced to walk away not only from your ministry but your livelihood and those that love you is a greater sin on their part. Being asked to leave was not in honor of God but in order to meet their liability. As long as leadership structures punish pastors for being honest and disallow them from being transperant you will not see pastors receive the healing power of Christ through the Church. Shame on us Christians for not practicing the love we profess. AAA+

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