Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gambling Pastor Given Second Chance

The Des Moines Register details the fall, restoration, and new opportunity for a young Iowa pastor. This pastor actually pastored the United Methodist Church in which I was raised. I had joined the Evangelical Free Church before his arrival to Indianola, but I grew up attending this church. I was confirmed and participated in this church from age 9-17. I'm interested in your thoughts . . .

Read:
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071229/NEWS/712290337

And then please comment:
1) Was the Indianola church in the right to remove him from leadership?
2) Was the United Methodist denomination in the right for removing his credentials?
3) Was the Disciples of Christ Church wise in ordaining him for ministry?
4) Is this small Ankeny church going to be blessed being led by someone with these past (?) struggles?
5) Should pastors gamble at all? Casinos? March Madness pick-ums? Poker nights with friends?

Remind me to share my thoughts in a week or so.

3 comments:

Shane Vander Hart said...

1. Yes, but I wonder if they would have if he hadn't taken their money?
2. Yes, but I wonder if they have some form of restoration process in place. It seems like they are more forgiving of pastors who get a divorce.
3. Not yet, I think he is getting back into ministry way to fast. I think he needs to work on his character.
4. Yes, as far as he will be able to relate. I don't think it makes him more qualified for ministry. I don't agree with the gentleman that said he has "two new tools" for ministry.
5. I'm not in favor of gambling for anyone. I don't think it is a standard just for pastors. Scripture doesn't really speak to this issue. For me it is a stewardship issue. Though I'm not going to look down on people doing football pools or getting a lotto ticket on occassion.

Jack said...

1) Was the Indianola church in the right to remove him from leadership?

Absolutely yes.

2) Was the United Methodist denomination in the right for removing his credentials?

Absolutely yes.

3) Was the Disciples of Christ Church wise in ordaining him for ministry?

I wouldn't have done it. Instead, I would hope that this man could have served as an assistant pastor somewhere, under mentorship, and after a longer time of staying reliably "clean." The question is, does this fellow meet the requirements of I Timothy 3? Does he manage his home competently? Can he have a good reputation in the community? Can the congregation feel confidence that their money will be handled right when they drop a donation in the plate or box?

4) Is this small Ankeny church going to be blessed being led by someone with these past (?) struggles?

Only God can predict this.

5) Should pastors gamble at all? Casinos? March Madness pick-ums? Poker nights with friends?

No, because (a) it's bad stewardship; the house always wins big in the end (b) it's a way of trying to make money without honestly working for it,which is a form of sloth (c) it's motivated by greed, and (d) the adrenaline-rush aspect of the whole thing is powerfully addictive.

Matt Proctor said...

1) Was the Indianola church in the right to remove him from leadership?

probably . . . I think he should have been removed from leadership for sure, but not necessarily sent out the door of the church. I believe the local church is the best place for renewal. Maybe after a few years of tender care by his congregation, he could have found a few other avenues for ministry. Maybe an addiction class or ministry to husbands who had dishonored their wives.

2) Was the United Methodist denomination in the right for removing his credentials?

again, I really think their needs to be restoration within the local church and greater denominations. I think his credentials should have been suspended. And then if after a few years of ministry probation, classes, counseling, etc., he could reapply for a ministry license.

3) Was the Disciples of Christ Church wise in ordaining him for ministry?

I like the idea of having him serve as an assistant pastor (after a probation period) before giving him the senior pastorate. Also, I don't think it's good for one denomination to say he is ill-fit for ministry and another to say he's just fine. That creates confusion in the greater Christian community and an on-looking world.

4) Is this small Ankeny church going to be blessed being led by someone with these past (?) struggles?

hmm? I don't want to conjecture, but I believe God can use any person for great kingdom work (no matter how checkered the past)

5) Should pastors gamble at all? Casinos? March Madness pick-ums? Poker nights with friends?

hmm . . . confession: I have done sports things with friends and I visited a race track once. I regret the racetrack and will never support organized state-sanctioned gambling ever again (it has hurt too many people). I don't have a major issue with someone playing small games with friends, but it depends on if your participation with that venue encourages a weaker person to think you've given your stamp on gambling en toto. I agree that a hands-off policy is best, but I don't think it's sinful so if being a jew to a jew means joining a fantasy league, I wouldn't reprimand such a decision.