A Hopeless Bunch
A Hopeless Bunch
Written By Mark Elfstrand, Cultural Affairs Writer   |   07.11.24
Reading Time: 3 minutes

A former Chicago radio producer and friend of mine has established quite a reputation for alerting us to the myriad of ministry leader “missteps” surfacing in recent years.

On one hand, it’s important for us to be aware of such mistrusts and to know that we must never elevate anyone in ministry beyond what they are: human vessels intending to accomplish what God has apparently called them to do. We must also be careful to avoid resharing what can easily become gossip.

Just in our own state of Illinois—and the Chicago region specifically—I have witnessed the significant fall of two pastors forced to leave their churches for highly inappropriate behavior.

The impact of their bad decision-making left a trail of hurt people and the churches they served as well. Both had been bestselling authors. One had a national radio ministry. The other an enormously successful annual conference.

You can find plenty on the internet about their travails.

Most recently, we heard about another pastor, radio ministry leader, and author. His wife (before her passing) and daughter had found their own role in ministry leadership as well.

His name is Tony Evans.

Pastor Evans recently made a public statement that at some point in his past, he acted “inappropriately.” How, was not divulged. As of yet. But, c’mon—doesn’t our natural human curiosity beg for details? It somehow fuels our fallen-nature tanks to know even “the best of them” can fail, too.

Not that we want that, but it happens.

A Facebook friend and pastor from the Chicago area posted,

“I was recently lamenting the news of Pastor Tony Evans, so close to the finish line. (Unhappy face emoji followed.) Unsure what his sin was or when it occurred but 48 years of pastoral ministry has seemingly come to an end.”

Of course, that may or may not be true.

He followed up with this important message:

“Every pastor is just one bad decision away from forfeiting his God-given call. Pray for your pastors that they would be humble, careful, accountable, holy and finish well.”

Perhaps he even could have added, “Pray often. Pray DAILY for your pastor.”

It wouldn’t be too much.

Daniel Siliman is a news editor at Christianity Today. The publication sends out a “daily briefing,” which I read most days. On June 18th, here is a bit of what Daniel wrote:

“Today is not a day when I feel particularly optimistic about the evangelical church. Normally, my own faith doesn’t feel connected to the fate of celebrity ministers. But when the news of “moral failings” piles up, and I read stomach-churning details of sexual abuse, and institution after institution demonstrates that they don’t really believe Jesus when he said that thing about millstones (Matt. 18:6), I do get gloomy.”

He then put links to the stories of four such men whose worlds have taken a moral tumble. Adding, “It’s too much.” Silliman then adds three bits of wisdom from Augustine to help us gain perspective on such failings.

I’d like to add an additional thought to all this. While working in another city several years ago, I helped initiate a community leaders prayer breakfast. It was modeled somewhat after an annual prayer breakfast in Washington, DC.

The principle person behind that event was well known to a close friend and mentor of mine.

In sharing about our plans for our citywide event, I mentioned the DC breakfast leader to a local and well respected luminary. He said, “Oh I know (so-and-so). He’s a phony!”

I was shocked! I later called my mentor friend and repeated this. And to my surprise he said, “He is! And so am I. And so are you!”

Putting this into the proper perspective my friend then said to me,

“But in all my years of working in ministry, I can’t think of anyone who has had more Kingdom influence than this man (the “phony”).

All of us live with masks of various kinds. Our hidden side.

Those who choose to comment on the failings of others would best remember this truth from Romans 3:23,

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

And worse yet, it isn’t in the past tense! Forgiven sinners still manage to do this thing called “sinning.”

Imagine if our “daily record” of our “lesser sins” were published for all the world (including those closest to us) to see! Talk about embarrassing!

No excuses are implied here. Just a reminder: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Were it not for Jesus the Messiah, we’d be a most hopeless bunch!

Mark Elfstrand, Cultural Affairs Writer
Mark Elfstrand is a Christian husband, father and grandfather. A 40-year radio veteran, Mark has been a drive time air personality in Sacramento, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, including WMBI and WYLL. He has also served in various ministry leadership positions. His current endeavors can be found at elfstrandgroup.com....
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