This past weekend I had the opportunity to meet and speak with two more couples who have been mistreated by spiritual leaders and who are bearing scars and pain because of it. Stories like these break my heart. It is not what God had in mind when he created us. He wants so much more for us. He wants us to experience rich and bountiful relationships with great love, commitment, and dedication to each other.
One of the stories I heard this weekend came from a denominational church. The couple involved worked for the church but were mistreated by the lead pastor. There was a church board involved, but they were there to support the pastor. There was a regional supervisor but he too was there to support the pastor. Even though these systems and groups were in place the support was for the pastor and even other staff were left unsupported, feeling they could not even voice their concerns or struggles without being seen as an enemy of the pastor. The husband has already left the church and the wife will also leave within a few weeks. They were incredible people so it is a huge loss to the church they are leaving.
Please hear my heart, I love pastors and I truly believe we should be supporting them. I have some good friends that are pastors and I love the pastors I live and share with now. At the same time I believe we need to have systems in place that support them when needed but also hold them accountable when needed. If the systems we have in place only support the pastor and do not provide any support, care, counsel, or openness for others to even share then there is a type of favoritism and lack of authenticity that will exist.
I have attended churches with boards, denominational leadership, elders, and one where there were only staff members. All of these models have issues. The only model that I believe is scriptural is that of elders/deacons. I am left wondering though if there is a good church leadership model, one where there is accountability but also support for the pastor, staff, and the people of the church. The only point I keep coming back to is the difference between a pastor led church, a people led church, and a Christ led church. I am now a part of a Christ led church and I see a stark contrast to anything I have ever known before. It is still managed by sinful people who will have the problems along the way, but I hope that when struggle happens that our first action will be to turn to Christ’s leadership and to ask for his direction. I keep thinking that is what Christ wants us to do and how we should truly live as believers.