New Look at Fallen Pastor Blog

Thanks to my new friend, Tom Jamieson, the Fallen Pastor blog has a new look. I’ve been praying for someone to come along and help me sort all of this out, and last week, Tom offered me his services out of nowhere.

I guess not out of nowhere, God is always at work.

At the top, you’ll still see links to my other pages. He’s added a “Featured Post” that will be a random blog post from previous days.

Here’s a little about Tom, the amazing blog designer in case you’re interested in his services. I asked him for a bio:

I am currently a full-time student at the University of South Florida attempting to earn a second bachelor’s degree — this time in Information Technology with a concentration in Web Design and Development.  Hopefully I will graduate some time in 2014. I am a full time supervisor with the State of Florida, a full time student, and a full time husband. I earned a B.A. in psychology from The University of South Florida and a M.A. in Christian Education from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I have served churches in Indiana and Florida as both Associate Pastor and Senior Pastor. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, golfing, and connecting with other Christians, writers, and bloggers. I am also slightly addicted to social media. In addition, God has given me a special heart for burned out and fallen pastors.
Thanks Tom!

Is There Hope For Fallen Clergy?: Diana Savage’s Review of “Fallen Pastor”

Diana Savage, who blogs at Wounded Christians, wrote a review of my book, Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World. I really appreciate her time in doing this. Her comments and analysis were really more than I deserved.

She does an amazing job on her blog and has done extensive work in helping Christians heal. She is a talented blogger, speaker and writer. I encourage you to follow her blog and to connect with her on Twitter as well (@DianaESavage).

Here’s the link for the book review in case you missed it. Thank you, Diana. Hopefully, Diana will be by here soon for a guest blog.

Exciting Upcoming Posts on Fallenpastor.com

I’ve got some neat things coming up in the next couple of weeks that I wanted to let you know about. I guess this is like a movie preview. Without the annoying people sitting around you crunching popcorn and slurping their drinks even though they know they’ve drank the entirety of their $7 medium Diet Coke.

I have sent a review of Joy Wilson’s book “Uncensored Prayer” to Provoketive Magazine for publication. This book was amazing and changed the way I viewed God and looked at prayer. Her book is transformative – in fact, in my review, I call it the indie version of “Experiencing God.” You’ll want to look at the review when it comes out, then run out and download it for your device or buy it in paperback.

I’m also working on an interview with Joy about issues in her book. She’s very down to earth and can teach all of us a lot about prayer. She has a great blog at joyleewilson.org that you’ll want to frequent.

I’m also working on an interview with Jake Larson, the co-founder of Fireproof Ministries. Jake gave me some great material for my book, “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” and he even wrote the foreword for me. In the interview, I’m curious about his current ministry, XXXchurch.com, which is reaching out to help combat the sin of pornography. Jake is a great guy and is on the front lines in the battle of pornography.

Now, the last thing to be on the lookout for. And how odd that I would post this after mentioning an interview with someone about pornography. I’m working on a book review of the runaway bestseller, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E. L. James. It seems like everywhere I go, I hear something about it. On one hand, I hear women telling other women, “You have to read this!” And other people saying, “This needs to be burned.”

This book has caused a firestorm in our culture. Is it just a book? Are they just words? Why are people taking it so personally? Has a line been crossed in literature? Should Christians read it? Well, the fallen pastor is reading it and working on a review. It may end up being less of a review and more of a desire to wrestle with the questions I just mentioned. Be prepared. I’m going to submit it for review to Provoketive Magazine hopefully this weekend. Props to fellow Provoketive writer Jordan Hageman for her article on the subject. I hope I can come at the book from a different angle.

I thought for a moment of changing the title of my blog to “Fifty Shades of Ray,” but then I thought better . . .

So that’s what’s transpiring in my heat addled brain at the moment. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Getting Help

I just updated my “Getting Help” page and renamed it “Help!” I made it a little more general. I hope that if anyone is reading this blog and needs any kind of help, they won’t delay or hesitate in reaching out.

If you’re a pastor on the brink of failure, a fallen minister who just wants to talk, or a church member whose pastor fell, please reach out to me. I’m here. If you go to that page, I just added some links to blog posts I’ve written that might help.

I understand that not everyone wants to reach out for help. Some people are just happy reading. That’s okay too. That’s why I write. Either way, I’m here. God bless everyone for reading.

God Is At Work Amongst Fallen Pastors: Are You Interested?

Over the past month or so, I’ve been contacted by several men who are pastors who fell from ministry. I get contacted a lot, so that’s no surprise. But each of them has had one clear thing in mind – doing something to reach out and help other fallen pastors. To find a way to get them together and help them.

That’s not a coincidence. That is God at work, possibly pushing us to ministry.

I’ve been talking to my friend John Wilbanks about this for a bit, but it seems to be picking up a little speed.

There is a definite need for some type of retreat, seminar, or getaway to help fallen ministers. I don’t know if it would be regional or nationwide. I don’t know how it would be staffed, who would speak or where it could happen. All I know is that God is putting this thing together in His glorious time and in His way. I’m just trying to listen.

People are contacting me because God is moving them to. I’m not a planner, I’m more of a problem solver/facilitator. I’m the guy who puts person A and person B together so they can get stuff figured out.

So what am I blogging on about? I’m asking a simple question – has God been speaking to you about this? Has He specifically given you guidance about this very thing? If He has, let me know. I don’t know how it’s going to work, but if He’s moving, I don’t want to miss it.

All you have to do is send me a comment for this blog post. I won’t publish it, but I’ll respond to you via email. If you’re serious and have some ideas, I’ll probably call you and we’ll see what’s going on. I’m excited. To God be the glory!

Please Check This Out

Over my time in the past two and a half years, I have met some extraordinary people. One of them is John Wilbanks.

He has set up a blog to help others. He has a heart to help the fallen pastor and is working with me to help those who have fallen across the country. Please take a moment to visit him, his blog, and give him some encouragement.

It’s at Real Talk Ministries. He’s got a heart for God, for people and for those who need help.

New Book Review & Amazon Reviews

My friend Greg over at the blog, “The Strategic Monk” wrote me a nice review. 

Check out his fantastic blog while you’re over there. If you’ve read my book and have a chance, leave me a review on Amazon.

Have a great weekend!

How Did I Get Here? Jonathan Brink, Providence and Who Knows?

It’s 1:30 in the morning.

A few rugged hours from now, I’ll be preaching and signing some books.

It’s really time for me to be honest with my readers. I’m about to put it on the line. I’m about to publish a blog at 2:00 am Central time, when no one is up. No one reads on Sunday morning. Or afternoon. But there’s a few things I have to say. And I’m going to say it anyway.

There’s a song by the Talking Heads that says, “How did I get here?” That’s how I feel right now. As a man who believes in the sovereignty of God, a man who knows from the foundation of the world God had a plan, that He has no plan B, I am absolutely amazed that I am where I am at this moment.

Two years ago, I was struggling. I was blogging anonymously, trying to rid my head of the pain that beset me. It was there that a man named Jonathan Brink found me. Let me be clear – Jonathan Brink is not a guy I would have ever probably talked to 10 years ago. His theology and ideas would have scared me. After I fell, there was something about him that made him different from every other Christian that turned their back on me. You know what it was? He loved me for who I was. He just loved me for the person I was.

Yeah, I’m a Southern Baptist Calvinist who loves God. But guess what? After I’ve fallen, I was surrounded by men like Jonathan who loved me. The people who believed like I did abandoned me for the most part. Jonathan believed in me, saw worth in me and gave me a shot. I’ve shared with him my fears, my weakness. He’s seen the worst of me in my writing. And he cares about me anyway. I know that in this world, there are few men like him. And I’m proud to call him my brother in Christ. My friend.

In the past two years, I found restoration with God. Because of men like Jonathan, like my pastor Jimmy Stewart, I know that I am no longer a fallen pastor. I’m Ray Carroll. A child of God. A restored creation. A man who sees a broken system in the church who can warn others of what is out there.

I get calls frequently of pastors who are out there who know there is something wrong. They aren’t quite sure what it is, but they are feeling the system is beating them down. As a man who was in that system and felt the worst of it, I can console them. I can help them through it.

The church culture today isn’t the best. It isn’t what Christ wants for us, I don’t think. He wants authentic Christian community. Most of us are blind to it. I was. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it until I fell.

I’ve had a lot of people read my book. Not just fallen pastors. I’ve had a lot of church people read my book. All of them have said the same thing – “I had no idea what pastors go through. It must be awful. My eyes are now opened to what you went through. Something needs to change.”

Yes, it does.

I have this idea that runs through my feeble little head many nights before I fall asleep. What if Jesus were to walk into our churches on a Sunday morning? What if He were to see what we were doing? Would He be pleased? Or would He hang His head in shame?

I have a strong belief that if Christ came into our communities, He would avoid our churches. He would go straight for those areas that our churches avoid. He would walk into the low income areas, the strip clubs, the minority neighborhoods, the welfare sections and the unchurched areas. He would go where our churches are afraid to go. And he would minister.

He would go to the places where we don’t want to go. Why? Because we don’t want those people in our churches. We want people in church to look like us. To act like us. To conform like us.

We’re really no different than the Pharisees.

About six months before I fell, I had a deacon quit the church and leave. It was before I ever got involved in adultery. When he left, he called me a “Pharisee.” I got really mad about that. Looking back, he was right. I was a Pharisee. I was a hypocrite. I only wanted my way. I only wanted to justify my actions. I wanted the black and white.

Thank you, God. Thank you for men like Jonathan. Men who have the voice to speak to the truth even though many tell them they are wrong. Thank you that there are people who speak loudly, even though they are called heretics. But I now know that there is love in those people. People whose love speaks louder than the judgment of those who are part of the established tradition. Your Word is true. It is right. But it is also proven over and over again through action.

How did I get here? Through the grace and providence of God. Working through others. I fall on my face, thanking Him that I am even worthy of His mercy.

 

2011 in Review for Fallenpastor.com

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fallen Pastor: The Book, Part 2 – Understanding The Fall

When I started working with Jonathan Brink, my editor at Civitas Press, about writing  a book about fallen ministers, I had the idea to write about my experience and discuss how to prevent other ministers from making the same mistake. He said, “A book just about you won’t work. It will sound like you’re trying to justify yourself. It has to have stories of other ministers.”

He was right. Jonathan is a very smart guy. In fact, he had the idea to interview many fallen pastors, look for the common reasons behind pastoral failure and examine them. I’m glad I did.

I won’t forget the day I got caught. It was awful. I deserved to get caught, obviously. I was a cheater and a liar. I left my home and my church forever. It was over.

I remember that it felt like the world was spinning for the next few months. One of the fallen pastors I interviewed said the few months after his fall were like his own personal “9/11.” I’m a fact finder. I try to make sense of things. I want to know the “why” of life.

Yeah, I knew it was my fault. I knew it was my sin. I was also busy blaming the stress of the job, church conflict, etc.  Within the two previous years, both parents had died in separate accidents and I hadn’t really grieved properly. There were a lot of variables. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “I think I’m going to break the seventh commandment!” It wasn’t that simple. I wanted everything to make sense.

I did two things. First, I started to blog anonymously. That was an interesting experience. Some of you followed my blog back then. I was blogging under the name “Arthur Dimmesdale”. I changed all my information and enough details to become obscure. I was doing it to clear my head out and to try to make sense of it all. I had a lot of interesting things happen to me while I was blogging my story.

First, I had a lot of fallen pastors and pastors who were about to fall contact me. They wanted to email, dialogue and ask for advice. I wanted advice too. It was exciting to try to help people, but I needed help too. I made some good friends in those days.

Secondly, I got really tickled at one point when a message board found me and started following my story. Most of them didn’t believe me. Message boards can be a vile place. They were pretty ugly about my situation, but I took it all in stride. One of them said, “This has to be made up – the story is just unbelievable.” Tell me about it. I was living it.

Third, I had a television show contact me. They wanted to do a reality episode about my affair. It was a no go, obviously. I’m telling you, some weird things happen to me, but that was one of the strangest.

Finally, that was where Jonathan Brink first contacted me about writing. I’m thankful for that. My mother wrote eight Christian books and she sent out letter after letter to publishers. I was fortunate to be found by writing a blog.

The other thing I did to try and make sense of everything was to call fallen pastors across the country. I started calling pastor friends and asking them if they knew pastors who had fallen and I got phone numbers. Most of these men had been out of the ministry for several years but they were all willing to talk to me. I wanted to know what to expect, what they felt and if they were ever able to reconcile with their former church. These men were so kind and gracious to share their stories with me. I ended up using several of their stories for my upcoming book.

Those two things – blogging and talking to fallen pastors – set up a good framework for understanding the culture in which pastor’s fall. It helped me understand that I was responsible for my sin, but there was a subtle trap that exists for all pastors that they need to be aware of that can bring about their downfall if they aren’t careful.

That’s what Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World seeks to do. It uncovers the dangerous culture that exists in some churches that we might not be aware of. Hopefully by examining the issues within the church and the heart of the pastor, future ministry failure can be prevented.

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Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World is available for preorder at Civitas Press. It will be available soon at Amazon.com and will also be available for the Kindle.

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