The Deeper Concern in Restoring Fallen Leaders

By Wanda Alger Published on June 25, 2024

With ongoing revelations of major ministers having hidden sins and unresolved pasts, believers are speaking out about the consequences to these exposures. Should we seek to restore these fallen leaders or prohibit any type of ministry in the future? Those who believe a leader has dealt appropriately with their past are asking for restoration to ministry. Those who are concerned about the deception and hypocrisy uncovered are crying out for real-time consequences, regardless of time passed. It is an issue that is emotionally volatile and the righteous anger is certainly justified.

What I don’t hear in many online commentaries are the realities of what happens, long term, to a leader who has fallen into sin. This is not simply an argument to uphold the biblical standard for pastors and overseers, but a reality check concerning the soul cracks that are created when a leader crosses the line into immorality and especially crimes against others. Regardless of any repentance, deliverance, or transformation they might go through, the broken covenants and promises, the compromise and deceit, and broken trust with family and friends, creates scars that will last a lifetime, regardless of any gifting or anointing.

Real Consequences for Sin

In our thirty years of pastoral ministry, my husband and I have seen numerous leaders go through sincere and authentic repentance and deliverance following exposure of sexual sins. We have seen the power of God at work to restore fallen leaders back to their relationship with God, as well as to their spouse and family. It is always the chief priority in any restoration process and is a beautiful work to behold. But we have also seen the pitfalls.

In the end, this isn’t about restoring fallen leaders as much as restoring the witness of the Church. This is not about individual gifts or anointings, but about the collective testimony of the Ekklesia.

Depending on the kinds of sins committed and how long they continued, the soul is forever altered. Perceptions and perspectives are forever changed and impartiality to the plight of others now goes through a filter. The ability to perceive and judge rightly has been impaired. Though a certain amount of empathy may be heightened, so is the potential for reacting in the flesh when put under pressure. Having once been compromised, the enemy stands at their door just waiting for another opportunity to defile and destroy. It is simply the reality of the work required to maintain a life of integrity after having fallen. They can still be fully loved, appreciated, and celebrated for their contributions. They can still find a viable place within the family of God that becomes mutually beneficial. But wisdom must be exercised in recognizing the increased risks that go along with any future public ministry. Especially if illegal activity or crimes against children were involved.

A Different Place in the Family

This is why many of these fallen leaders should not be placed back into positions of spiritual oversight. This is not just a matter of forgiveness or freedom from sin. This is not just about God’s ability to redeem or restore. This has to do with the health and well-being of the entire family of God. It has to do with the collective witness of the Bride and God’s intention to have godly shepherds that are free of reproach and compromise.

For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. (Titus 1:7 ESV)

There is a reason why the biblical passages that outline the qualifications for a pastor or overseer (one who gives spiritual oversight) are so specific (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9). Theirs is not simply a call to teach, preach, or evangelize; it is a call to provide a place of protection, safety, and godly counsel backed by Heaven’s authority.

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The bottom line is this: it is imperative that believers trust their leaders. This is why our leaders must be above reproach. This means there cannot be any doubt within the minds of their followers that they can be trusted. There cannot be any question concerning their integrity or ability to avoid compromise. It is why recent converts should not be given ongoing pulpit authority and why the reputation among “outsiders” is mentioned. Those who are given spiritual authority to guard, guide, and protect others must demonstrate lives of complete honesty, integrity, and spiritual maturity. Without that established trust, the foundation will be cracked and it will only be a matter of time before the cracks widen and eventually give way.

Restoring Trust

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a growing collective angst against church leaders. In the last number of years there has been a groundswell of distrust towards pastors and those behind the pulpit. Unfortunately, our corporate track record in acknowledging and dealing with sin in the camp has been sorely lacking. Thus, there is a huge trust deficit that must be filled.

At the same time, it is clear that the Lord is directing this clean-up process. He is purifying His Bride. We may have gotten away with some things in the past due to collective apathy and ignorance, but times have changed. The world is watching and we cannot respond as before. We must change our perspectives and practices if we are to have any legitimate spiritual authority, not only in Heaven, but on the earth.

My point in sharing this is to simply call attention to the deeper issues at stake. Regardless of the cases currently being examined, we must look at our principles and protocols. We must start with the clear scriptural foundation for those called to lead the church and settle why this standard is needed. We must purpose to extend healing grace to any fallen leader and full restoration to their marriage and family. But we must also dig deeper into the practical and psychological ramifications of sin upon the human soul and the impact on the larger family.

In the end, this isn’t about restoring fallen leaders as much as restoring the witness of the Church. This is not about individual gifts or anointings, but about the collective testimony of the Ekklesia. We are the God-ordained ambassadors of a higher Kingdom commissioned to change the world. But we must demonstrate the right to do so. It is our love for the Bride of Christ, and not personal attachments to favorite leaders, that should ultimately determine the path forward. I pray we make the right decisions — for the right reasons.

 

Wanda Alger is an ordained and commissioned fivefold leader who has been in ministry for more than 35 years and is passionate about interpreting life from Heaven’s perspective. She is called to speak to the Body of Christ about the mountain of government, godly leadership, and Kingdom authority. Her blogs, videos, books, and other resources are available at wandaalger.me.

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