When Pastors Get Cancelled – Episode #36

“Cancel Culture” exists in the church, just like it does in our broader culture. Indeed, cancel culture has probably existed in the church for thousands of years, whereas in our culture in America, it’s only a more recent pop culture phenomenon.

In today’s podcast, I define cancel culture, and what it looks like in our society. Cancel culture is when someone is outed over scandalous and reprehensible behaviors or comments, and then “boycotted” for that behavior until they are run out of whatever positions of power and influence they may have in our society. And, no matter how much such a person may apologize or condemn their broken behavior, such persons find no room for repentance until their head is served on a silver platter.

Speaking from a very personal place, as someone who has been to Bible College and Seminary, and who has many friends and family in professional pastoral ministry, I look at the three ways cancel culture has existed within the church when it comes to ministry. In particular, I am concerned with the way we handle pastors who are caught up in an immoral lifestyle, and get ousted from their church and ministry. Whether those pastors are famous pastors like Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, James MacDonald, or Bill Hybles, or lesser known ministers.

Looking at Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Timothy 3:2, I seek to show how cancel culture can be an appropriate response to ministers caught in serious scandal and moral failure. I share stories about minister friends of mine who have been caught in adulterous relationships, some who have been gloriously restored into ministry, and others who are no longer walking in the faith.

But beyond that, I have a difficult conversation about how we must make a place for such ministers to be made whole again, and if possible, restored to ministry one day. I look at the dangers of cancel culture as a circular firing squad that executes all involved. And, I offer a strong warning against those who attempt to take short cuts in being restored to ministry, where it is clear the fallen minister is primarily focused on simply getting back into ministry, instead of going through a process of being truly restored and being made spiritually whole again.

In today’s podcast, I challenge what it means to be a minister, and what it means for the church to be a community, and how we carry out the difficult and delicate task of restoring fallen ministers. Please listen to today’s podcast, and let me know what you think.

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