One of my greatest fears in pursuing this area of research is that I would somehow add to the hurt of those who have been victimized by pastors and negligent churches. I know people who have suffered horrific abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to protect them and still wrestle with the trauma to this day. I can only imagine how challenging it must be to envision your abuser being ‘restored’ to ministry and in leadership again. This project is not about finding creative ways to minimize, rationalize or spin the serious failures that have led to significant pain. To be clear: I believe there are some pastors who should never get back into vocational ministry.
The stories that seem to generate the most public interest usually involve some type of abuse. But not all failed pastors are abusers. Many pastors fail because they made a series of bad decisions that hurt people, but are horrified by the consequences of their actions. My hope is that this project will help all of us grow in our ability to discern the difference.
This project seeks to manage a tension between advocating for the restoration of leaders who have hurt people and protecting the Church from further harm. I know that I will make mistakes because I am imperfect. That just means I need your help. If there’s ever anything in this project that demonstrates a lack of care or sensitivity to victims, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.