PASTORAL RESTORATION & LifeWay Polls Christians on Pastoral Misconduct & Restoration

“Few Pastors Say Adultery Should Permanently Ban Them from the Pulpit”

by Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, Christianity Today Magazine, 5/10/16.

Half of Protestant pastors say their colleagues should step down from the pulpit for a time if they are accused of misconduct.

Most say such accusations should be kept in confidence until proven.

And few think pastors who commit adultery should be permanently banned from ministry.

Those are among the findings of a new telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

“Pastors believe church leaders should be held to high standards,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research. “They also want to protect themselves against allegations that could be false.”

… Pastors are split over how long a preacher should step down from public ministry after having an affair.

One in four (24%) supports a permanent withdrawal from public ministry. A similar number (25%) is not sure. About a third (31%) say a pastor should step down between three months and a year.

Older pastors (those over 65) are more likely to want a permanent ban from ministry (28%) than pastors age 55–65 (19%). Middle-aged pastors (those 45–54) are more likely to say from three months to a year is more appropriate (38%).

African American pastors (45%) are more likely to say a pastor should leave for three months to a year than white pastors (30%).

Lutherans are least willing to reinstate, with half (47%) saying an adulterous pastor should leave ministry permanently. Baptists (30% call for a permanent ban) are less willing to reinstate than Methodists (13%), Pentecostals (13%), and Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (11%).

“The Scripture says pastors must be above reproach,” said Stetzer. “So it’s not surprising that some want to see fallen pastors banned from ministry. Still, pastors are also people who talk about forgiveness regularly and, by and large, they want to see those who fall have a chance at restoration.”

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