When a pastor falls What happens when a pastor has an affair

When a pastor falls
What happens when a pastor has an affair

Written by the author of this website

One of the things I haven’t talked about here are the stages of recovery for a church. I’m not sure it’s ever been worked through, but it’s important to know the process you will go through. This is not refined to be sure, but here are the stages of recovery as I have watched our church.

1. SHOCK. When this sin is revealed in a pastor’s life shock is the first response of the church. It’s often because the pastor was much loved and respected. It’s the one thing we never dreamed HE would do.

2. GRIEF. Of course this is next. Grief over the loss. Grief for the pastor’s family, for your family, for yourself. Grief is good and will lead to the next part of recovery. But, realize that grief will take longer for some than for others. What I have seen is that the women in our church have grieved much longer than the men. Men understand this temptation and are quick to say, “Ok, I understand, let’s move on.” But the women need time to grieve. It may take several years for some, but grief must happen.

3. LOSS. There is a tremendous sense of loss in this sin. Loss of trust. Loss of faith. Loss of direction. Loss of trust in your own husband, your own wife. If he can sin like this am I safe? The loss is much more than I realized.

4. ANGER. After loss comes anger, it will come in different ways. Anger that he would do that to us. He didn’t do it to us but it feels like a direct assault on the body of the church and we become angry at the pastor for what he did.

5. LOSS OF FAITH. Some, not all but some, will simply abandon the faith. It might be for a short time, but there will be some that will simply walk away. Disillusionment and loss of trust are big and affect some dramatically in their walk with God.

6. HEALING AND RESURRECTION. The church will go through a time of healing. It will take time, but you will find your church family drawing closer together and becoming more committed to each other than ever before. It will be a resurrection as well. A resurrection of a new church family. It will look different, but it will be even stronger than it was before.


What I usually don’t see in those who have failed in to sin, is repentance. Maybe I have missed it somewhere in all the websites.  Many who sin, seem to want forgiveness without repentance or been judged for their behavior but no repentance.

There is three statement made by one of the preachers who failed in to sin of moral sinfulness I read this week.  He said this:

1. Never fear criticism when you are right.
2. Never ignore criticism when you are wrong.
3. Never give criticism unless you are asked.

Do you see any repentance of this:  Now I know its been 25 years later when these person  was caught up in sinful moral behavior , but at the news of another preacher sinfulness this was on his Facebook page.

I am sure the Lord forgives sinful behavior, and moral sinfulness, and any other kind of sinfulness.  And in the end as Paul said, God is the final judge of my standing with Him.

Judging sinful behavior is what do, what is wrong would be to judge one’s position with the Lord.  I will judge the sinful behavior, but should not judge where he is saved our not.

Matthew 7:1=4 does not say we are not to recognize sinful behavior and do nothing about it.  We are to deal with sinfulness of anyone in our church who has fallen into this kind of sin.

Galatians 6:1 I know, but again it is not talking about those who do not repent of their sinfulness and turn from their behavior.  Anyone who truly repents and comes to Christ should be treated that way.

Of course the world makes sure that those who who abuse children  that its  on their record for ever and they have to made sure where they live that they know it.

Any person who truly confesses his sinfulness and is seeking to change his life is wonderful.  And personally I would hope that they would get the spiritual help they need to change and turn their life around.  I would say anyone in any kind of sinful behavior who is seeking help would seek help.  Personally I would have no problem in working with anyone who is seeking help.

My father Everette T. Whisnant, was a person who loved fallen preachers.  He must have understood them well.  In the 17 years that I knew my Dad (he died when I was 17) I saw a number of fallen preachers come into our church. Dad without question worked with them and prayed with them, and gave them counsel . It was only years later that I would know that these men have lost their church because of sinful behavior.  Dad never did talking about them in our home or church that I knew of.  He never would allow anyone to talk about another preacher. 

He certainly would preach on sinful behavior for sure.  He was not happy with sinfulness of anyone.

To continue: Charity is calling me to breakfast.


3 thoughts on “When a pastor falls What happens when a pastor has an affair

  1. Mike says:

    Charles, thanks for reposting my article. Your comments about repentance are valid. I think the reason it’s rarely discussed regarding the fall of a pastor is we seldom see the resolution of the sin and the repentance that would follow. Most often we dismiss the pastor and then try to survive as a church. Repentance, although a biblical and vital part of recovery, is unfinished because the pastor who sinned is no longer part of the body. We don’t get the chance to see what God has done in his/her life. In our experience I have personally seen this in the life of our pastor because I have pursued him and kept a relationship with him. God is working in his life, but most of our church won’t get to see that. He’s not part of our church and wouldn’t come back….at least not yet…perhaps you have hit on a part of this we need to discuss and pursue more intentionally, but it leaves open another aspect of this that would follow….reconciliation.

    • Charles e Whisnant says:

      I totally agree Mike, the first thing a church wants to do when the pastor is dismissed, is to dismiss him out of town.

      Don’t you think that Matthew’s discussion on discipline shouold also be on the part of the sinning pastor as well?

  2. Mike says:

    Charles, Yes. I agree. it would be great if we could handle this in a biblical way, but it seems to be difficult for the church to think clearly in the pain of such a sin. It’s much more destructive than I ever imagined, and I have yet to see a pastor in this sin willing to go through church discipline. Maybe one day, but not immediately. I know Dwight Edwards, a pastor in south Texas, took nearly 5 years before he was ready to come back and apologize to his wife and church. That is one of the few times I have heard of a man in this sin humbling himself and dealing with the church in a right way. Often these men simply drop out of the christian community completely. The Matthew passage works well if the sinning party is willing and that’s where I have seen the problem. It’s a very difficult problem for our churches. Thank you for your wonderful words and thoughts. I’m grateful for the dialogue. In Him, Mike

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