The Dreaded “D” Word in Ministry: Can I lead a ministry being divorced?
I am a believer in Jesus Christ and have been since the age of ten. I am a God called preacher and have been since my late teenage years. I have been involved in ministry leadership much of my adult life including pastoring for many of those years.
For the past seven months I have preached most all of the Sunday morning services at our home church near Hammond, LA. It has been an amazing opportunity for which I am thankful and humbled. My intentions for the past several years was for Heather and I to start a new ministry in another community near our home. We actually had a few planning meetings in that home exploring our many options. My father’s terminal illness and two floods put all of it on hold. We continued to attend and serve in our home church when circumstances developed that allowed me to do some supply preaching and later step into a more active preaching role. To be honest that ministry and its people have captured my heart. I cannot preach to such a loving group for that amount of time and not be moved deeply for them. I have prayed for them, served them, cried over them, hurt in my heart for them, and availed myself to the God of Heaven trying my best to be led of the Spirit as I have preached and taught the Word of God. I know in my heart and spirit, because of the timing and other circumstances, that God is involved, He is doing a work, and I am loving it.
My life isn’t perfect. I am a sinner and I have failed the Lord more times than I would care to admit. I do try to live my life daily for the Lord and with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I am so glad my salvation isn’t based on what I do but on what Christ did at Calvary. I do not say this as an excuse. According to the Bible it is the truth for all of us.
My wife and I have both been through a divorce. That experience has forever affected us. It also affects daily our love for one another, our view of life, our convictions, our determination, our goals, our handling of others, our view of ministry, and so much more. We know first hand what it is like to have the dreaded “D” word plastered across our foreheads because we experienced many hurtful things from hypocritical folks who really had no direct knowledge or involvement with us, our families, and the circumstances in which we found ourselves. To be honest it really wasn’t any of their business. In our greatest time of hurt and need we remember well those who judged and spoke unkind things about us and those who loved and prayed for us in spite of the circumstances. We have some amazing God sent experiences and memories from some precious saints of God who were there for us, loved on us, and encouraged us when we needed it most. Some of these individuals were involved in national ministries and yet they took time to be a blessing. Much was learned by those experiences. They have helped us have a better understanding and compassion for others, especially in ministry. God has been so good and has greatly blessed our lives, our marriage, our family, our businesses, and our continued involvement in ministry.
Some believe divorce disqualifies a person completely from serving in a church leadership role. The passages used for this belief are those dealing with the character qualities of a pastor found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The phrase “husband of one wife” is the foundation for this belief. I have never embraced this idea because this phrase is not a reference to divorce but to a man’s present character and faithfulness in reference to his wife. The literal translation refers to a pastor as being a one woman man or being faithfully devoted to his wife. I am fully aware that divorce and marriage can play a major factor in a person’s ministry. But to take this one wife meaning would also mean a man could not pastor without being married first (some believe this to be the case) and he would have to stop pastoring if his wife died or left and he remarried a second time (it’s silly but he would no longer be the husband of one wife – some also have this belief). To be disqualified for life for a failure in marriage no matter the reason simple goes against the principles of forgiveness, mercy, and grace found in God’s Word. However, as a character issue, a man would be most certainly disqualified if he is a womanizer.
Years ago I studied these passages in depth because of knowing several men personally who had experienced divorce and who were successful pastors. Recently I renewed my study because of my own situation and the desire to do things properly and according to God’s Word. I have also sought advice from several men involved in ministry and while some believe having a divorce will be an issue it is a man’s call and character that matters most. My view of these key verses has not changed.
It is not my intent to debate or offend with my view. I am simply expressing my heart, my view of scripture, and where I am coming from in my own life and current situation. The Lord continues to burden my heart for ministry. He also continues to give me opportunities to preach, lead, and be involved in ministry. I simply desire to be obedient to His call on my life.
Dr. John MacArthur is a highly respected Pastor and Bible teacher. He leads Grace Community Church, Master’s University, Master’s Theological Seminary, and the international ministry called Grace To You. He has authored and edited over 150 books. The following information is from the MacArthur Bible Commentary.
Husband of one wife. Lit. in Greek a “one-woman man.” This says nothing about marriage or divorce. The issue is not the elder’s marital status, but his moral and sexual purity. This qualification heads the list, because it is in this area that leaders are most prone to fail. Various interpretations of this qualification have been offered. Some see it as a prohibition against polygamy. An unnecessary injunction since polygamy was not common in Roman society and clearly forbidden by Scripture (Gen 2:24), the teaching of Jesus (Mat 19:5-6; Mar 10:6-9), and Paul (Eph 5:31). A polygamist could not even have been a church member, let alone a church leader. Others see this requirement as barring those who remarried after the death of their wives.
But, as already noted, the issue is sexual purity, not marital status. Further, the Bible encourages remarriage after widowhood (1Ti 5:14; 1Co 7:39). Some believe that Paul here excludes divorced men from church leadership. That again ignores the fact that this qualification does not deal with marital status. Nor does the Bible prohibit all remarriage after divorce (see notes on Mat 5:31-32; Mat 19:9; 1Co 7:15). Finally, some think that this requirement excludes single men from church leadership. But if that were Paul’s intent, he would have disqualified himself (1Co 7:8). A “one-woman man” is one totally devoted to his wife, maintaining singular devotion, affection, and sexual purity in both thought and deed. To violate this is to forfeit blamelessness and no longer be “above reproach” (Tit 1:6-7). Cf. Pro 6:32-33.
Title: GOD’S GRACE
Text: Genesis 6:1-8  And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,  That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.  And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.  And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
What are some of the most treasured words in our Bible (next to the names of our Lord)? LOVE, FAITH, HOPE, PEACE
There can be no doubt the word GRACE is one of those words.
The first use of the word GRACE is found in Genesis 6:8: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
The word GRACE:
- Used in both the Old & New Testaments.
- Used 170 times in 159 verses.
(39 times in the OT – 131 times in the NT)
- Paul uses it the most of all the writers.
- Paul wrote 13 of the 27 New Testament books / letters:
- Romans 1:7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Galatians 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
- Ephesians 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Colossians 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Thessalonians 1:2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Timothy 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
- 2 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Titus 1:4 To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
- Philemon 1:3 Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Source of this Grace: “…from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Meaning of Grace: What is Grace? Bible grace is defined as: God’s unmerited favor
- The word “God” shows that he is the source of this favor or grace.
- The word “unmerited” means that this grace this both unearned and undeserved.
- The word “favor” means a kind or helpful act that is done for someone beyond what is due or usual.
The God of this Grace: Do you understand what is at our disposal when we seek the one who extends this GRACE???
- He is the Creator: Colossians 1:16-17 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
- He is Omnipotent: He is all powerful
Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
- The word LORD means: Jehovah – the self existent one.
- The word Almighty God is: El Shaddi – the all powerful one
- He is Omnipresent: He is always present.
Psalms 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
He is Omniscient: He is all knowing.
Matthew 10:29-30 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Psalms 147:4-5 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. 5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
The Promise of this Grace:
God’s grace is available to EVERYONE
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
God’s grace is available through HUMILITY
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
God’s grace is available through DEPENDENCY
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
God’s grace is available through PRAYER
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
God’s Grace is not because of any thing I have done
God’s Grace is totally because of God’s love and what He has done!
God’s Grace is not because of who I am
God’s Grace is only because of whose I am
I need God’s favor: I do not have all the answers and I do not know what tomorrow may bring – but my God does.
I should desire and pray for God’s favor upon others.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor , and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,  Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
- Context defined:
- The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
- the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.
In other words, understanding a word, verse, or passage in scripture requires us to view it in light of the verses around it.
- Common Sense Questions:
- Who is speaking or writing?
- To whom or about whom is he speaking or writing?
- About what subject is he speaking or writing?
- When or about what time is he speaking or writing?
- What is the occasion for the speaking or writing?
Mark 12:29-30 “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is , Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
God has bless mankind with a mind and the amazing ability to think, learn, imagine, create, and remember. We live in an age where information of every sort is available within seconds. There seems to be no limit to what we can gain in the way of knowledge whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, true or false. The believer understands that God is the source of all truth, genuine knowledge, and wisdom (John 17:17; Psalm 33:4; Poverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10). He created our mind with all it’s abilities. For us to live life where God is not a part of our thinking, learning, imaginations, and memories is unimaginable. A life lived without the precious knowledge of a loving, caring, and saving God is truly a terrible thing. Loving God with all our minds recognizes and honors the God who created and gave us this precious gift. What a blessing it is to know Him and ponder His greatness!
It has been a blessing and privilege for Heather and I to lead the teen ministry of Open Door Baptist Church for the past several years. We count it a joy to have been able to serve our teens, their families, and our church in such a fulfilling way. We have poured our hearts and lives into this work hoping to make a genuine and lasting difference in lives and for the future of our church.
We feel it is now time for us to step aside as leaders of the teen ministry. We have wept much and ridden a roller coaster of emotion; and will greatly miss serving in this way. We are thankful to the Lord for what He has allowed and accomplished. Boxes of Blessings, The Christmas Bike Project, various mission projects, Teen Jubilee, LSU Concessions, various fund raisers, Teen Camp and many other activities would have been impossible without the support of our church family and a great team of teen ministry workers and supporting parents. We especially want to thank the Faciane and Normand families for their faithful service and encouragement along the way.
Heather and I plan to continue serving in and through our church family. Our hearts’ desire is to help with several international mission projects with an emphasis on the Philippines. We also plan to refocus our attention on our family and marriage. Honestly, the teen ministry has truly been our focus, oftentimes coming before our own family and personal time.
We do not know what the future may hold but we are excited about what God has planned for the teens, the teen ministry, and for us. In the days ahead our pastor and those he selects to help in this important ministry will share their plans and an exciting new schedule. We know it will be a blessing and help to our teens and their families.
We love you and covet your prayers.
Bro. Lamar Powell
Just enjoyed watching a new film about the Brad and Deborah Wells family. They are ifb missionaries to Papua New Guinea. The movie is called, “Two Hats.” What a blessing to see our God at work.
The 2012 Teen Jubilee hosted by the Teen Ministry of Open Door Baptist Church will be held on Friday, January 20. Dr. Johnny Pope is our guest preacher. Special music will be provided by The Adams Family. nbsp;Visit the JUBILEE WEBSITE for more details: www.opendooronline.com/jubilee