Pastor Michael Nave was candid about a crisis season that resulted in the termination of a staff member following accusations of moral failure and the month-long public examination of the church’s actions and responsibility.
He called it a time for “honest assessment” for Cornerstone Church in Marion, Illinois — and explained how the lessons in transparency should steer actions in all kinds of ministry situations.
“Honest assessment is a gift we give each other, so we can hear the voice of God,” Nave said.
Nave was elected to his second one-year term as Illinois Baptist State Association president by messengers during the state’s annual meeting on Nov. 8. On his home platform, Nave shared the story how in August young men began to come forward with evidence of grooming behaviors by a pastoral staff member. Nave described the series of meetings he had with parents, the church family, worship services where the man’s termination was explained.
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Local law enforcement investigated, but no charges have been brought. The Cornerstone leadership team determined however that the actions disqualified the man from ministry, and he was quickly dismissed.
Pursuing truth, healing
Nave chose to be up front about the situation, preaching on it four consecutive weekends. He also addressed it on radio and social media. “We’re going to honestly pursue truth, then pursue healing,” he said.
“When we were vulnerable about our failure, and our leader’s failure,” Nave said, it became an opportunity to turn attention to Jesus.
His experience served as a message to Illinois church leaders to address issues of declining attendance and faltering discipleship. “If we don’t honestly assess reality, we can’t honestly follow where the Lord is leading us. We won’t know what to pray for,” Nave said.
Nave pointed out biblical leaders who were honest about their situations: Joseph, Esther, Nehemiah — and Jesus.
“We love it when other people are honest in assessing their reality, but why don’t we do that?”