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The Opportunities From The Fall of Pastor Gary Lamb

I am still somewhat numb over the news and buzz over the fall of Pastor Gary Lamb.  In my previous post I addressed some of these issues, but with the news continuing to dominate many of the blogs I read I decided to address the issue again.  Obviously this is a far more public failure because Gary blogged about it personally and the Internet and social media participation is much larger now than in the past.

I am especially bummed by some of the comments and views I am reading on other posts about this issue. Some people have decided that Pastor Lamb’s situation provides an opportunity to bash him and every church structured like his church.  (For an example, read the comments on Monday Morning Insight’s post about this issue.)  While this is well meaning for the most part, I frankly feel that when a situation like this occurs and gets such public attention that it provides opportunities we did not previously have to do something positive for the Kingdom.

Here are some Kingdom-building opportunities for the church to consider:

  • It gives us the opportunity to show the world how the church treats people who are in sin.  Jesus showed us how He treats sinners in John 8.  We now have that same chance.  Sadly, based on the comments I see from pastors and others on various blog posts, I am not sure we are painting the same picture Jesus did.  And yet we wonder why hurting people do not look to the church as their first place of hope in hurting times.
  • It gives us the opportunity to build or rebuild accountability into our lives and in the life of our church.  Every pastor and minister should be asking if this could happen to him or her with his or her current system, or lack thereof, of accountability.  As I said in my previous post, I know too many pastors who see nothing wrong with being alone with other staff members of the opposite sex.   Hello?
  • It gives us the opportunity to check our own hearts and marriages individually.  If a married person does not seriously take a look at where their own marriage is after reading this story, I would question the sincerity of keeping their marriage strong.
  • It gives us the opportunity to help at least two families rebuild their marriage. Is there a better way to model for married couples outside the church that are in distress that with God’s grace and strength a marriage can be restored than to witness it with one of our own?  I hope the restoration of these marriages gets as much attention as the failure in the marriages has received.
  • It gives us the opportunity to demonstrate grace and restoration of a fallen soldier.  Regardless of one’s take on Pastor Gary Lamb’s qualification for the pastorate or his style of ministry, few can question the impact he has had on so many people’s lives or the passion he has displayed for Christ.  I cannot help but think that produces overall good for the body.  Granted we all need to be checked at times to make sure we are walking in complete truth, and that time is obviously now for Pastor Lamb, but how effective could he be if he is restored, mentored, and sent back out to invest that renewed passion for the Kingdom’s good?  (I believe the body of Christ was questioning the effectiveness of Paul at one point, yet God used his failures in powerful ways.)

Could this be one of those opportunities where God can work all things for good?  Could we place all the negative energies some have towards Gary Lamb  towards praying that God gets glory here and that lives are drawn to Him through this failure?

NOTE: In times like this we should certainly all get refocussed on truth.  To help with this, read the series of devotionals I am posting this week beginning with this one HERE.)

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Randy says:

    I perhaps have a unique position, now pastoring the church
    in Iowa that Gary Lamb often quoted as the church from hell.
    If you’re not aware of this, just go to YouTube and search
    for Gary Lamb and watch as he states that his biggest regret
    was not burning down our church before he left. I am indeed
    heart broken for his wife, children, the other woman and
    her family but am just wondering about a preacher of the
    gospel who would say to his congregation that he wanted
    to take a baseball bat to a lady, punch a man in the face
    and then burn our church down.

  • Jesse Phillips says:

    Ron, you’re amazingly gracious. I wish I could talk and perhaps be counseled by you some day.

  • Valerie says:

    Ron, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have read both positive and negative posts about this situation. I’m always amazed at how some Christians are so judgmental and unforgiving.

    One thing that I have not seen a lot of is people who are praying for the woman involved, her husband and her family. Prayer is especially necessary for those who are innocent but got splashed when the mud hit.

    Valerie’s last blog post..The Pastor, The Affair and Social Networks

  • Ron says:

    Jesse, thank you for your comment. I am with you. I don’t think that changes my approach to offer grace to Gary in this (although my only access to him is via social media), but I totally agree this should cause us to ask some serious questions about how we do church. Personally I have always built accountability and access into my life, because I know how weak and frail I could be if I allowed myself to be tempted.

    I have posted some on this before, but after looking for some of the posts I realize this is a topic I need to write on more.

    Here are a couple:

    In April I posted about inviting my staff to evaluate me. This was a method of accountability:

    I also posted this about what to do after an affair, that may be helpful for Gary today:

    Jesse, I’m working on a post about the difference in doing church the way some of us are, with more responsibility and authority at the staff level. I agree with this organizational structure, because it works, but it certainly comes with some huge potential for Satan to work as well, such as in this case. Honestly, I could get away with meeting alone with female staffers or females in my church and no one would question it, because they trust me and many of them are still new in their faith and this is commonplace in the workforce. I must build this accountability into my life.

    You have certainly added great fuel to my current thought process. Thank you.

  • Jesse Phillips says:

    Thanks for this, Ron. I agree.
    I want to add one thing – I do think we DEFINITELY need to fiercely love, forgive, support Gary, his fam, and the other woman and etc.

    However, a tree is known by its fruit. I’m afraid that Gary’s failure is an important indicator of whether he was worth following – What if Paul the apostle had committed adultery?

    The fact that he led his church so “successfully” yet was doing this privately, to me, is another indication that this office of pastor is not at all the way God intends it. I believe we are to be learning from a mentor-like pastor/elder who is worthy of being followed and imitated (as Paul said, and as Jesus did).

    It’s WAY WAY WAY too easy to give a powerful message w/out being an actual person of character, worthy of being immitated – this is a total shame and a danger in basically every church in America b/c we do things in an anonymous setting that is more about information transfer and giving an inspirational pep-talk, then about really learning to live righteously and transforming our minds, killing our flesh daily with accountability.

    I think Gary’s failure is an indication of a failure in our system, the way we do church – far removed from the way the Apostles and Jesus did church.

    My opinion. I know this is a super un-popular opinion, but I beg you, Ron and brothers to consider this, for the sake of the Church and the entire world.

    If I’m wrong, please correct me, it is your duty. If I’m right, let’s change this, it’s our duty.

    LOVE YOU! jesse

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  • Having inherited a church that had just experienced the very same thing that Revolution is now going through I can sympathize very well. I feel greatly for the members, the staff and especially Gary’s family and Elena’s Family. This is a tough, scary ordeal for any group to walk through.

    The key in all of this will be grace, patience and love. Without grace Revolution, Gary, Elena and everyone else will not survive. Without patience they will never see it though. Ultimately without love, no one will grow, be changed and neither will God be glorified. The love I am talking about is the entire decription of love in 1 Cor 13…..It takes ALL of that in order to heal and grow.

    After a LONG & HARD year at Grace Church, we finally found our peace and healing. By coincidnce, it was just this week. Sunday our former pastor, who had a major moral failure, returned to worship with us. he is not in ministry, he did not lead. But, he did baptize his daughter. For our people this show healing, grace and love. This took patience and lots of hard work. but, God has worked healing in our church, and is starting to really change our former pastor. Why? Because we leaned into God, work hard to elarn our lessons and never gave up. We let criticism fall on deaf ears, and stood firm in God’s call on our church. That is how Revolution, Gary, Elena and anyone who has been in this sort of mess will survive. God is good!

    Michael Robison’s last blog post..The Desert Song