Thank you for this insightful review.

Man in the MiddleTop Contributor: Photography

Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2022

“As I read this book, it brought back a lot of memories of similar missed opportunities for well-meaning churches and church people to do the right thing when rumors of sexual misbehavior first erupted, thereby ensuring costly train wrecks for the affected churches later.

The first such instance I learned about as a young pastor just out of seminary. Apparently, a fellow recent male seminary grad was a known womanizer, whose misdeeds were being covered up by district superintendents and bishops, quietly moving the fellow from one church to another without alerting anyone at the new church that they might want to watch for this problem. That came to a head the day I was to be fully ordained when I discovered this fellow was also to be fully ordained that day. I immediately found the head of the Board of Ministry and filled him in on the problem, only to discover he’d never been told of any potential problem by the bishop or district superintendent, so on he went to complete ordination. A couple of years later, there was another incident, and this time law enforcement got involved immediately, and all of the truth finally came out, including the previous quiet moves. In the end, the minister went to jail and the denomination lost a multi-million dollar lawsuit to victims who rightfully felt they should have been warned.

The recent troubles at Willowcreek Church in South Barrington, Illinois (slightly mentioned in this book) and to two other former ‘Creekers are similarly sad, and their pain might have been lessened and shortened if those responsible for guarding the gates against such problems had done a better job of it. Having served in child care at Willow for over twenty years, I thought I knew everyone involved well, and could trust them all. We’d successfully solved a couple of similar problems quickly and properly, but the new train wreck, when it came, was massive, and affected everyone still there. (We’d moved to another state a couple of years earlier for unrelated reasons.)

Recently, some similar troubles erupted at our church in the new state, more around improper leadership than allegations about sex, but still serious enough that it remains to be seen whether the congregation will survive, and our family is mostly worshiping and giving elsewhere until there is a proper resolution.

In short, however unpleasant it is to learn about and think about such problems in our churches, they are common enough that it is important to both protect against them and be prepared to survive them.

Thus, although this book may be over-long, and over-detailed, that may be entirely necessary to get its message across to those who need to receive it. The “two adult rule”, for example, is not just a good idea. It must never ever be violated. Similarly, much as I now prefer local control of churches rather than rule by a distant bishop, the church I recently visited that has only a single elder, appointed by the pastor was a huge red flag of possible future problems. Finally, when such problems arise, as they inevitably will among flawed humans, Matthew 18:15-17 gives excellent advice on how to get successfully through any such problem.”