How to React When a Pastor or Other Leader Experiences a Serious Failing

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Moral failure
Has your church been forced to deal with some sort of moral failure? How did it handle it? (iStock photo)

11. Start moving the church forward immediately. Members of your congregation will grieve, but for the church to survive, you need to keep moving forward. Tell your leaders, teachers and small groups not to dwell on the failing but to talk about the future. Keep programs intact. Plan new events. Refocus the congregation from the failing in the past to the possibilities of the future.

Be ready for critics of all kinds, because even some Christians inexperienced in these matters will criticize a crisis plan as not being godly or trying to manipulate the truth. But it’s not about manipulation; it’s about being honest. It’s not about contriving a story; it’s about revealing the truth. However, it needs to be handled in an appropriate way so more lives aren’t damaged and the church doesn’t suffer even more.

God is a good God. Restoration and healing can happen. But taking the right steps from the beginning will make a big difference. God forbid anything like this will ever happen to your church, but just in case, share this with your church leadership so they’ll know what to do if and when that time comes.

If you’ve experienced a situation like this at your church or ministry in the past, what are other steps you took that helped?

Phil Cooke, Ph.D., is a filmmaker, media consultant and co-founder of Cooke Pictures in Los Angeles. Find out more at

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