As a new Christian, I had the unfortunate experience of being discipled in a church that regularly twisted scripture and abused pastoral power. Over time, many people were scarred emotionally and spiritually. Hundreds never recovered.

A decade later, Annie and I invested ourselves—without reservation— in a church plant that imploded after two leaders had an extra-marital affair. In hindsight, all the indications were there. Annie and I hadn’t seen the affair taking shape, but we could have. The ripple effects were devastating—particularly for those new to Christ.


If you’ve been around the Church for any time, scandals are nothing new. How the perpetrators can sleep at night is incomprehensible to me. What is not mysterious is the pressure these setbacks have exerted on my enthusiasm to live “all-in” for Christ. It’s as if powerful spiritual forces conspire to soften my commitment to live boldly for Christ.

A “voice of reason” resonates in my head coaxing me to be moderate. One prevailing paradigm suggests that we hold our faith as we would a country club membership or allegiance to an alma mater: one of many commitments. Important maybe, but not essential and certainly nothing to lose your head over.

I disagree.


-Kirk Kirlin, from the book “Leadership Courage,” more at

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