Coming home last Sunday from a service some 265 Km from home I was listening to Fox News on satalite radio and heard Ted Haggard and his wife being interviewed on Huckabee (a weekend talk and variety show on Fox Cable News network). This reminded me of an article I had read in our local newspaper just before Christmas … the article is below:
Headlines: Leader-Post Saturday the 12th of December, 2009, page G5 Sub-heading “Second Time Around”.
“Ted Haggard – once the pastor of a thriving church in Colorado Springs, Co. in the U.S.A. has now moved back to this area, purchased a farm and has opened up a Bible study in his home that has now grown and moved into the barn as a local church with 100+ people attending. This because as one parishioner states: “he was born to preach” and not to sell life insurance.”
I understand the desire to preach and I firmly believe a man can repent and be restored after falling into sin. However, like many today who were in high profile ministries (should we mention Canadian Todd Bentley) and fell into error he has stepped back into ministry without completing a biblically-based restoration process under the leadership and guidance of both the Holy Spirit and some spiritual leaders (of his choice).
The article goes on to state: According to leaders from his previous church – New Life in Colorado Springs – and leaders at such prominent ministries as Focus On the Family (one of whom was on the original restoration team) also located in this city … Ted Haggard “did not complete a church-mandated ‘restoration process’.” and are critical of his decision to start a new church in this season of his life when healing and counseling are still very much needed and to start a new church so close to New Life which is still, as a local assembly, still recovering from the ordeal itself.
These are always difficult situations and one wishes the person well. But at the same time those of us who have been ministering for years have seen many people wounded and hurt due to the character issues of leaders. This is not to mention all those destroyed in their faith by herecies and false doctrines being taught as truth and this one happens more often than we can to admit and these leaders have some of the largest churches in the world.
Is it time for the Church to examine itself and take a hard look at what we are building. And, in the process, look at how we are building it? I think so. And, we need to take a hard look at who is building it – Jesus or a charismatic leader. If it is a charismatic leader then we need to look – not at charisma, giftings and calling – but at character (family, friends, finances, fruit…) and judge the minister by the fruits of the Spirit and their lifestyle not by their success in drawing numbers and becoming well-known through quality use of the media.
A former mentor of mine who just recently died and went to be with the Lord once said: “It is easy to draw a crowd and have a circus, but it is hard to build a real church.” Time to examine what we are building!