Yesterday the Church of England published the results of their investigation confirming that accusations of inappropriate behaviour by Mike Pilavachi were substantiated.
In a report published yesterday, the Church of England confirmed that Mike Pilavachi "used his spiritual authority to control people and that his coercive and controlling behaviour led to inappropriate relationships, the physical wrestling of youths and massaging of young male interns". This is heart-breaking news, for those who worked alongside him, for those who looked up to him and especially for those who were affected by his actions.
The Bible is full of stories that demonstrate the corrupting influence of power. In the age of the mega-church, we see individuals put on huge platforms as these congregations expand in to big institutions. All large organisations make poor decisions from time to time. Anything that scales up from a small local enterprise to one that serves thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, will have its casualties in the expansion. An organisation that relies heavily on the judgement, morality and leadership of one person risks a momentous fall from grace.
The Bible is full of stories that demonstrate the corrupting influence of power.
The difference is, we are prepared for big professional organisations to let us down, but not the Church and not church leaders. The Church is family, one body made up of different parts. We feel so attached, that every poor decision hits hard, it’s not just their church after all, it’s ours too.
Some positive stories about our churches...
I’ve been watching the Disney+ documentary The Secrets of Hillsong and it just makes me feel sad. I’m sad that such good intentions, of many of the leaders, congregation and volunteers, have ended with upset and pain. I’m sad that people are leaving the Church completely because they feel stung by its leadership. I’m sad that influence and power is being used so destructively.
I've had to work to separate the flawed character of Christians from the beautiful character of Christ.
It’s not just Hillsong or Mike Pilavachi who are getting this wrong. It seems that all the mega churches are slowly plummeting from their pedestal and many of their leaders are having a similar fall from grace. But the worst thing we can do is let that taint our view of and relationship with Jesus. It's easier said than done, but I know that I've had to work to separate the flawed character of Christians from the beautiful character of Christ.
Once we've done that, we also need to put in some work to see the goodness, kindness and necessity of the Church. Jesus says the church is his bride. We are to show it love and respect - even when individuals, or groups of people taint it. To my mind, it's time we returned to small groups, local churches and pastors with strong pastoral ties with those they serve, wisdom and deep-rooted biblical knowledge rather than Instagram followers.