In light of IHOPKC, I want to encourage pastors, leaders, and eldership groups to create clear guidelines for dealing with accusations of sexual misconduct against leaders. Who will embrace these?
1. Make a commitment to your congregation that any accusation of sexual abuse or sin will be taken seriously and investigated. (1 Tim 5:19-20).
2. Elders do not investigate their fellow elders, who, in most cases, are their friends. Commit to allowing a third party to investigate, that includes men and women.
3. Females reporting abuse and sin need the address of a female in the congregation who is an advocate as the first person they talk to. This female is not there to serve the purposes of the elders, but the elders have empowered her to be the liaison between the accuser and the congregation, protecting her identity. (A male victim would go to a male.)
(Why do you need to protect her identity? Very simple: some people who fall sexually are simply those who made a one-time mistake. But often, it is chronic narcissistic offenders. These people will often seek to intimidate and manipulate their victims into being silent. If you have sinned sexually against someone, and then you threaten them by threatening to expose their issues, you need to fear the Lord a bit more.
4. That female then takes her concerns to a pre-appointed third-party team (which may be outside the congregation) that will investigate. Elders are notified but are not involved in an investigation against one of their own.
5. In cases where minors are concerned, police are contacted. Romans 13 appoints police, not elders, to deal with crimes.
6. Victims are not made to feel guilty for reporting sexual abuse, harassment, and sin. But they are to be applauded for coming forward.
7. In nearly 40 years of ministry, almost every accusation I have ever heard has been true to a large degree. Nevertheless, there are some who will bring false accusations, seeking attention or wanting to harm a leader. One cannot assume that because somebody brought an accusation, the party is guilty. But it must be investigated.
8. Leaders and elders should sign a form stating that if they commit adultery or are with a minor (sexually), they will resign from the ministry permanently. They can be restored to Jesus and the people of God, but preaching and teaching are sacred privileges, not rights, as so many fallen preachers seem to think. Paul taught that some sins disqualify one from preaching. "But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:27)
9. Results are made public. "But those elders who are sinning, you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning" (1 Tim. 5:20).
10. Any leader with credible knowledge of another leader preying on women should commit to exposing that to the person's board or elders. Please don't stop until you know it has been dealt with! In the present situation, nationally recognized leaders were given information about a predator. They rightly banned him from preaching but did nothing to expose him. He went on to hurt more people.
We have a crisis regarding sexual sin in our culture/church. Will we as leaders embrace godly governmental principles to protect victims and then righteously deal with perpetrators in the love and fear of the Lord? #churchtoo #metoo #victims