When Ministers Fall


Leadership sin

When Ministers Fall

27 August 2008 Hits:7870

From time to time we hear about a high profile Christian leader who hasn’t been living up to the high calling of their profession. When details come out about inappropriate behaviour there are a number of emotions that we experience – shock, anger, disappointment, grief, bewilderment and so on. All these emotions are justified and need to be worked through in a godly way.

In the last two weeks we’ve heard of two such cases. First there was the news of Todd Bentley’s marriage break up because Todd had “entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff” (click this link for more details). Todd and Shonnah are now receiving counselling and Todd has been stepped down from the ministry for at least nine months.

Then the news about Mike Guglielmucci for whom many of us had been praying since the “diagnosis” of cancer in 2006. This now all seems to have been a hoax that Mike had kept up for over two years even deceiving his closest family and friends. Mike too is receiving professional help.

Even though I personally have many questions about both of these situations, I think it is vital that we remain godly in our attitudes. It’s fine to be angry – but not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). It’s also quite legitimate to be disappointed, shocked and grieved – after all we had hoped for better things. But above all we must remain spiritual. In Galatians 6:1 Paul says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” One of the signs of true spirituality is the gentle restoring of a fallen brother or sister. We are also exhorted to watch ourselves. It’s easy to point the finger at someone else’s mistake but which one of us is free from the risk of likewise becoming caught in a sin from which we find no escape without accountability and help from others?

So in the coming weeks and months I encourage you to use some energy to pray for Todd Bentley, for Mike Guglielmucci and their families. Times will be tough for them because of emotions that will war within them and a merciless media who rub their hands together with glee because another of the righteous has fallen. Let us not be guilty of shooting our wounded. Let us pray for restoration and grace.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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14 replies on “When Ministers Fall”


These situations are sad but to me they are also strengthening in a way. Because they are a precious reminder of how much work there is to be done. Regardless of what Todd Bentley and Mike Guglielmucci have done, i admire the faith, obedience and courage it took to respond to their high calling in the first place and to take up pastoring a community of Christians. This is such an important opportunity for us as a Christian community to exercise grace- the very stuff we are made of.

Anne Hollandsays:

Thank you Ps. Rob for your great Godly wisdom to us on these matters. You have encouraged in us a balanced attitude and I totally agree 🙂 🙂 🙂 Anne.

Sheryl Minnssays:

Thanks for this insightful comment Rob. I have been quite bewildered about these events, and unsure of how to respond. My natural side was inclined to be judgemental and resentful that these guys had shamed the church. But I was also aware that Jesus wouldn’t have been so harsh, and that he overcame not only death and sin, but shame as well.
We who are Christ’s followers have also some responsibility for these events, in that we spend much time idolizing those people who talk the talk, and not enough time walking the walk for ourselves. We count on their performances to be the visible actions of the Church, and let ourselves off the hook when we are somewhat less than perfect in the way we live our own lives. Then of course, when those visible people fail (as everyone does at some time) we are embarassed and angry.
Something I have wary of since I first came to faith is that I would not be lulled into thinking that my life of worship is something I can watch others live, but something I must do myself for it to be genuine. We all need to hold ourselves accountable for the state of our own hearts, place our faith in the Goodness of God rather than the performances of others, “for all have sinned and fallen short…”
I do pray that these guys will be blessed through these mistakes, and that we are all able to learn from them, and all draw closer and press deeper into Jesus.

Michael Gilmoursays:

Great blog Ps Rob. I’m pretty black and white about issues like this.
1. I’m a follower of Christ and regardless of what other people do I follow my Lord. This brings me to a place of security in that I don’t have to worry about what other people are doing, only what I am.
2. It’s not my role to judge but it’s the Lord’s job and the people that he has appointed to this task in terms of covering these ministries. I’m a pretty simple individual, if I can’t influence a situation for the better (other than by praying) then don’t get involved or spread bad things about people.
3. Without sounding super-spiritual…..even if such a terrible thing happened at Bayside (I pray it doesn’t) I would still attend Bayside until such a time as I was called to move (better have lots of confirmation on that). The Lord wants us to be bedded down into a church and contribute to the life of that church regardless of other issues. It’s very hard for Him to build a church if the bricks keep on moving. My family is bedded down and contributing to Bayside NOT because of Ps Rob and Christie (although they are a great blessing) but because the Lord expects us to get involved and to a fantastic work. It just happens to be nice that it’s easy to contribute because it is Bayside. 
4. The only thing that we can do for these ministries is to pray for the individuals concerned and then uphold our own church leaders in prayer and thank the Lord for them! They are ALL a mighty blessing.

Peter Karaoglanissays:

Hi Rob

I found your comments heartening, compassionate & wise, you have acknowledged the sin without discarding the sinner. This is why Bayside Church is a safe place.

The world demands a high standard from Christians and other leaders, and when we fail we are judged with no prospect of redemption, talk back radio is testament to that hypothesis.

However Jesus absolutly condems the sin, no grey areas, but offers salvation to the repentant,shattered person who conforms to salvations plan.

As each of us recover from our daliances with sins enticing grasp, as a communinty in Christ we focus on eternity’s plan, embrace correction, and the love of Gods chosen people.

God Bless
Peter Karaoglanis 🙂

Andrew Bsays:

I couldn’t agree more Ps Rob. I’ve been under two different leaders who have been removed from ministry and was close to both of them (not neither of them were in ministry in Australia, let alone Bayside Church). Whilst that time of my life was a difficult and confusing one I came to the conclusion that
1. We are all infaliable. Just because someone is in ministry doesn’t mean they are not tempted to sin as we (the followers) are
2. We tend to idolize people in leadership and as a result get our eyes off Christ and onto a man or their ministry
3. We always need to be praying for those in leadership because Satan goes after the head (just like military leaders do in war) because when the head goes, so does the body. Satan knows if he can take down a leader he can have a much bigger impact than taking out a follower; hence the importance of always covering our leaders in prayer
4. Judgement is God’s realm not ours. Who knows if we were in their shoes, facing the pressurs they were facing if we would make similar decisions.
5. Our gaze must always be securely fixed on Christ. Regardless of what happnes around me and who falls around me if my foundation is on Christ, and Christ alone, I CANNOT be shaken. Yes there will be disappointment, grief, anger etc when leaders fall but this should have no impact to my faith in God. In fact it should remind me that I should only trust in the one who is truly FAITHFUL.

Let’s use this time to pray for Todd and Mike but also re-assess where our gaze is set and re-adjust if necessary.



Come on people why could we even let this Obama be up for election the second term in the first place with no identity or proof he is a citizen of our country ? Where is the legal teams and congress on this ? Where is the laws of our conttitusion being followed ? How can he continue to sign executive orders and go above Congress and we the people ? Is he above the law ?I fully do not understand? And our troops votes are not counted ? Our beloved troops who are protecting our country ? Whats going on ?

Ruth Psays:

Thank you Rob for your wisdom, love & compassion: that in these kinds of situations with Mike G. and Todd & Shonnah B. we, as a community and family, do need to love them as Jesus loves us all, but hates the sin…so much pain, hurt & destruction result. It displays again that we ALL stand on God’s grace ALONE through Jesus’sacrifice for us!!And thank God that we can be filled with the Holy Spirit every day to express God’s love and grace to each other in the body of Christ ALL the time, none of us are perfect…not to judge,as Jesus said to the Pharisees who caught the woman in adultery..”Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. However, we also need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to resist sin & fight the spiritual battles against the forces of darkness, to continually love & pray for each other, especially those who lead us as shepherds, who are in the public eye!!
We also need to trust God that in ALL things(even terrible situations like these!!)… God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to His purpose…Jesus reveals Himself in the midst of it all!!


Great wisdom there Pastor Rob. I admire the way you sort to lift a fellow brother up and not shoot him down because he has fallen.

God bless you and your ministry.

Lorraine Pirihisays:

Hi Rob

Do you have an update on Michael? What caused him to do this and how is he doing now?


Gary Hanniesays:

🙂 This subject matter is very close to home, and I am grateful for God’s grace in so many areas. Thank you for a very balanced, gracious and “from God’s heart” expression of God’s love for us all. I am thankful to be in this House and to be under genuine Godly authority.

Gary Hannie


Thank you, Rob, for your balanced compassion. However, how do you deal with a member of a hierarchy who not only abuses his position, but gains the support of his “brotherhood” who all stand against the cleric’s victim? Believe me, there is no Christian compassion there, whether the victim be a child or adult. To have a priest seize hold of you, perpetrate his lust on you against your will, then have the victim unable to leave the house, or have to hold onto fences and walls, literally falling in the gutter, shocked and unable to speak – then being advised by the hierarchy to keep quiet in order to prevent scandal to the Church or the priesthood. The priest gets all the help in the world and the unquestioning support of his confreres, but the victim is left completely alone without any support and unable to work. Very unfair.

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Hi Barbara. Thank you for your comments. It sounds like you (or someone you know) have faced a terrible injustice. Forgiveness and compassion does not mean that we simply accept injustices in life – or put ourselves back into situations or pain and hurt. The inaction of church leadership in cases of sexual and physical abuse is disgraceful. To simply move a priest to another parish when he’s perpetrated crimes against innocent victims is the worst breach of trust possible. To ignore the victims is appalling. These things should never happen in a church. The church should be the safest place on the planet. I pray that God’s grace will bring healing to all hurts and that he will use what has happened to help you to help others. God bless. Rob


This is the first time i have been informed about the author of the famous worship song “healer” and the trials he has fought. Though it was 6 years ago, I can still imagine the scenery where Michael would bend his knees and maybe ask his self “how did i get here?”. As for me Michael has started the fight being fake and ended up being true and for those who are affected by the situation its also a matter of reflecting.. Can we remain true when something/someone is untrue? That is why it is very important to look unto the Lord because only God never fails. And in God we can see and practice the perfect way of forgiving and be forgiven. We all fail that’s why God’s grace is perfect and sufficient.

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