(Jesse Johnson – The Cripplegate) In the past month, two prominent pastors have had their private sins publicly exposed: Bill Hybels and Art Azurdia—one nationally known and whose fall was front page news, the other known only inside of evangelical circles and his fall reported largely on social media.
Both demonstrated conduct contrary to the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3, conduct that disqualifies them from being elders. Both committed adultery, and the fall of both men will obviously bring shame on the name of Christ.
But there is one huge contrast between these two situations—namely, how their respective churches responded.
In the case of Hybles, the accusations against him were not handled biblically and the potential harm for not only the families involved but for the church herself has been increased by that failure. In the case of Azurdia, his church followed the Biblical pattern for situations like this, and while his conduct will certainly cause some to question their faith, his church has mitigated that in large part by their adherence to scripture.
First Timothy 5:17-20 instructs churches how to respond to immorality among elders. Paul connects the privilege of being paid for ministry to living a life above reproach. For those that serve well as elders, they are worthy of honor. But for those who disqualify themselves from ministry, they are worthy rebuke.