It was a beautiful, sunny Florida day. My wife and I had made plans for a great date night since it was Saturday. The next day I would be preaching to the church I helped launch…and dearly loved. In essence…it was a perfect day…and then the phone rang. It was my close friend and fellow pastor Gary Lamb. I figured this was like every other phone call I had had with him over the last four years…a little talk about hard rock music…some conversation about what God was saying to us…still more conversation about the trials of leading a church. Unfortunately Gary was calling to inform me that he had been having an affair with his assistant and that he was stepping down from his church. All at once it felt like someone had hit me in the stomach with a baseball bat. I wanted to double over…I wanted to vomit…I wanted to run…I wanted to scream at the sky. The intense hatred I had for the the Devil…and the huge disappointment I felt toward Gary…at that very moment was beyond words. I knew that he and his wife had been having marital issues for a while. However, I never dreamed that Gary would let down his guard enough to allow something like this to happen. Even in my disappointment and confusion…I told him, “Gary our friendship doesn’t hinge on your being a pastor. I’m still your friend…I will always be your friend.” Noble words at the time…but little did I know what being Gary’s friend would mean over the next two years.
Over the next few blog posts I will attempt to tell the story of friendship when a friend…a pastor friend…falls to moral failure. I have never publicly spoken about Gary or what he went through before this. I am only doing so now because he asked me to and because another one of my friends has fallen. I realize that there are those in ministry that are currently dealing with trying to be a friend to a fallen pastor. Unfortunately there also will be people in the future going through it. My hope is that this series of posts can provide some comfort and guidance in dealing with the situation.
Before I begin I want to make several things clear:
1. I will not be commenting on whether I feel that Gary…or anyone else…is qualified for ministry. That is a private conversation between my fallen friends and I.
2. I was never…and have never…been on an official accountability board or restoration team for Gary…or anyone else.
3. Gary did not see today’s blog post…but we did discuss it over the phone this morning. He will be seeing the next few blog posts in this series before they are posted. Not for his approval…just so he is aware of anything that is being published.
4. I will not comment about any recent revelations about pastors who have confessed to moral failure.
5. I will not respond to email, Twitter or Facebook questions concerning these posts.