Should Pastors Resign after Accusation of Wrong Doing? You Decide.
Should Pastors Resign after Accusation of Wrong Doing? You Decide.Dr. Teddy Kamau
One of the most influential pastors within evangelical Protestantism is a man by the name Bill Hybels. His congregation is situated in South Barrington, Illinois. Barrington is where rich Americans hide from the chaos in Chicago. Here they keep horses, raise their children in schools richer than many universities. Barrington is indeed a beautiful neighborhood where everything, including the churches, revolves around wealth.
It is in this wealthy neighborhood that Bill Hybels started Willow Creek Community Church as an outreach. Bill Hybels attracted many unchurched people in and beyond Barrington and the church grew to over 25,000 members according to a Hartford Institute for Religion Research study. Willow Creek had ministries all over the world and its annual conferences attracted thousands. Today, Willow Creek is but a shell of what it was under Hybel’s leadership. Accusations came from within the congregation that he had been involved in misconduct. To this, Bill Hybels told Christianity Today magazine, ““I’ve been accused of many things I simply did not do.”
When the media, including Christian media heard of the story, they descended on Willow Creek like vultures to eat ‘the carcass.’
Satan and his kingdom held a party in their demonic domain and celebrated victory! St. Paul says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Given that Bill Hybels, like all of the priests and believers in the Kingdom of God are at war with Satan, ‘killing’ a captain is music to the ears of those who hate God and His Christ. Those ‘gates of hell’ love it when one of their enemies is brought down. Knowing this, the Bible restricts condemnation of priests and elders.
Another popular Christian leader, Jerry Falwell, the president of Liberty University was recently forced to resign. I know many young people from Kijabe Academy in Kenya who attend Liberty. With thousands of young Christians, Falwell, though not a pastor in the definitive sense, was a ‘pastor’ to thousands of believers. He was photographed with his underwear showing with his arm around a young girl who was a staff member. The sad thing is, he is the one who posted the photo online. Though there was no evidence that he had an affair with the girl, and even though evidence confirmed that she was his wife’s assistant and when the picture was taken it was in a public place with other people witnessing the situation, which he said was done jokingly, he was forced to resign.
The Bible is very clear of the process of dealing with accusations against a believer. According to Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus said if a believer has sinned, the person who witnesses the sin or is sinned against must go to the individual alone, privately without broadcast. You tell the person of the wrong. If the person accepts the wrong and repents, the Bible says, that case is closed. If the person does not accept and confess, you are not to take the matter to the media or broadcast news. Instead, take with you one or two elders. Tell him the sin he has committed (not rumor but established by testimony). If the person admits and confesses, the matter is finished among the accuser, the elders, and the offender. It should never be discussed outside of that circle. If the person refuses, it is
then you are supposed to bring the matter to the church. Remember, now you have the two elders who can testify that the person admitted and did not confess or repent.
After the congregation is informed and the person accepts the accusation and confesses to the church, the person must be forgiven. Only when a person refuses on this third step should the person be released to the world’s cursing: To Satan and his people in the media. First Timothy 5:19 also gives specific guidance to these matters.
Given that Bill Hybels rejected the claim that he had sinned, and the fact that he did recognize his humanity and need to become a better pastor, this issue should never have come out of the office where it was originally discussed. He should never have been coerced and forced to resign. Jerry Falwell was guilty of bad judgment in posting a photo to Instagram. He should have understood the implications of taking a picture with a girl during a yacht outing with her, her family and his family. To post the picture, was to invite the kingdom of darkness to the table of judgment and Satan is never a friend of the believer or a pastor for that matter.
In these cases and others, the pastor should not be judged outside the biblical principles. However, it is the responsibility of the pastor to teach the congregation to understand the whole spectrum of biblical mandates so that they can live and act in all things under the Spirit of God, Word of God as written, and per the mandates of Christ. Also, leaders need to avoid even the appearance of evil!
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, NIV). We cannot invite SATAN to judge the Church.
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (Ph.D)
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist