Jonathan Acuff writes blog and recently released the book “Stuff Christians Like.” He writes for the Dave Ramsey Organization and lives in Nashville with his wife and two children. Follow him on Twitter @prodigaljohn.
Here are some thoughts from Jonathan Acuff to scandal proof our church:
1. Create an environment where it’s OK for people to fail.
Sometimes, we Christians confess “safe sins.” We sit in small groups and say, “I’ve got to be real tonight. I want to be honest, I want to give it to you raw like ODB in the Wu Tang Clan.”
So you lean in expecting some deep honesty and instead someone confesses, “I don’t read my Bible enough,” or “I don’t do very long quiet times.” If you’ve got a big neon sin, if you’re struggling with porn or a drug addiction, it’s really hard to follow the “I don’t read the Bible enough” guy.
So you fake it a little. You shine things ups. You start to use what people call the “Christian F-Word,” which is “fine.” How’s your marriage? Fine. How’s your job? Fine. As Christians, we’ve got to make it OK to fail. Not to justify it or support it, but to allow an environment where grace reigns, not judgment.
2. Go first.
The challenge of creating an honest environment is that you have to go first. You have to throw yourself on the honesty grenade, which is difficult. Because when you go first, you don’t know the boundaries. You don’t know what’s acceptable or OK.
You have to step out into the gaping void of a conversation and be honest. But when you do, when you go first and share your story and your life, you give everyone in the room or your family or your community, the gift of going second.
You give them the opportunity to go second and follow your lead. They get to step into the space you’ve carved out with your honesty. We’ve got to give the gift of going second.
3. Hold pastors accountable.
According to the Bible, Solomon was the wisest person who ever lived. He asked God for and was granted more wisdom than we can possibly fathom. And he failed.
So why do we think our pastors won’t? Why are we surprised when we treat them like they’re perfect, never challenge their actions and then they fall? It’s classic “CEO Disease” or just another example of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
The pastor gets so big and successful that we don’t hold them accountable. We surround them with people who constantly tell them “yes.” We establish a different set of rules for them.
Instead, we need to surround our pastors with people who love them enough to tell them things they don’t want to hear. To challenge them and embrace the Biblical model of iron sharpening iron.
4. Look out for Aaron lies.
No one wakes up on a Tuesday and says, “I think I’ll wreck my whole life, throw away my ministry and destroy my marriage.” We all take small steps toward the big, dumb decisions we make. And along the way, we justify the things we’re doing with the craziest excuses and lies.
Like Aaron telling Moses that he just threw gold in a fire and a calf magically popped out, we’ll create wild lies. We’ll say, “Oh that, that’s just what guys do!” Or, “That’s not an emotional affair, I just have a flirty personality. That’s nothing.”
We’ll pile lie upon lie until eventually the whole stack topples over. Scandals should never really surprise us. There’s a veritable ginger bread trail of lies the whole time. Seek truth and celebrate truth and don’t for a second accept that golden calves magically appear.
I don’t know what will happen with the latest scandal. I don’t know that minister. I don’t know that church. But I do know we’ll keep having scandals if we keep creating environments where people can’t be honest and we act like our pastors are perfect.
How about our church today?
Is it a healthy place to grow spiritually or just a bunch of people get together every Sunday?
Is it a place where do we want our children to grow and know God?
Is it a place where we can come and bring our worship offering?
Is it a place where we can have fellowship with God and others?
Is it a place full of scandals and “hidden” lies?
LET’S PRAY FOR OUR OWN CHURCH!