How to Prevent the Next Evangelical Leadership Scandal

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Working in PR, I’ve stepped in to help ministries after a crisis hits. What they need is more accountability before it happens.

It’s a far-too-common story: A pastor or prominent leader of a faith-based organization resigns because of sexual misconduct or abusive or controlling leadership.

In 2020, we’ve seen a fair amount of cases like these among evangelicals. When moral failure befalls our communities’ leadership, it can be a gut punch to our faith. Sexual misconduct and abusive leadership can hurt marriages, impair our institutions, forever damage the lives of those impacted, and harm our witness to a watching world.

Working as a public relations professional in the Christian world, I’ve had an up-close and personal view of how quickly crises can develop and how easily they can engulf an organization in controversy and confusion. I have been called on to help numerous ministries in crisis, many of which were struggling to come to terms with revelations of sexual impropriety or abusive leadership. My role is to try to minimize the public damage. But in many situations, it becomes clear that organizational problems existed far before the sin was ever made public.

Exposing the truth is necessary and helpful. We have a duty to name and call out sin in our communities, churches, and ministries. Open and honest media coverage can be a part of that process. But we can and must do more than expose sin within leadership when it happens. We must fight to prevent it from taking root in the first place.

We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; none of us is perfect. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure….” Each of us is prone to sinful temptations in different ways. To deny this about ourselves is in itself a prideful flaw. This is exactly why evangelical ministries …

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