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Trends, Challenges, Issues & Treatment. Pastoral Sexual Abuse:. Diane M. Langberg, PhD Diane Langberg & Associates Philip G. Monroe, PsyD Biblical Seminary. Seminar Topics. The profile of pastoral abuse Impact of abuse Intervention strategies Prevention strategies

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trends challenges issues treatment
Trends, Challenges, Issues & Treatment

Pastoral Sexual Abuse:

Diane M. Langberg, PhD

Diane Langberg & Associates

Philip G. Monroe, PsyD

Biblical Seminary

seminar topics
Seminar Topics
  • The profile of pastoral abuse
  • Impact of abuse
  • Intervention strategies
  • Prevention strategies
  • Troubleshooting common pitfalls counselors face
  • Q & A
i the profile of pastoral abuse
I. The Profile of Pastoral Abuse
  • Components of pastoral abuse
    • Climate factors
      • Focus on expertise and charisma in leaders
    • Personal history and character factors
    • Deception
    • Power (note various forms of power in the person of the pastor) and vulnerability
some additional thoughts
Some additional thoughts
  • Who is to blame for pastoral sexual abuse?
    • Only “bad apples” abuse?
    • What about the system?
  • Challenges in Ministry
    • Stress Statistics: What is the biggest stressor?
  • System “germs”
    • Believing that capable leaders apply their own words
      • Pastors know their spiritual needs best and will ask for help when in need
    • Making secondary work primary
and there is more to this recipe
And there is more to this recipe…
  • Courting narcissism?
  • The seminary’s tendency to neglect the interior of the Christian life
  • Lack of pastoral oversight & discipleship
ii pastor abuse its impact
II. Pastor Abuse & its Impact
  • Consider the ripples beyond the immediate families involved
    • The church family
    • Victims of prior abuse
    • If minor involved then all parents impacted
    • The larger community if media gives attention to the situation
    • The church staff
gird yourself
Gird yourself!
  • The work of guiding and shepherding the various constituents cannot be done without doing your own work
    • Study the Word together
    • Pray together
    • Avoid rushing to get “there”

Remember: the process itself IS the work of God

iii intervention strategies overview
III. Intervention Strategies Overview
  • From 30,000 feet: Clinician opportunities
    • Decision tree map introduction
    • Goals (the good and the ugly)
    • Prioritizing safety
    • Clarifying roles, communication, ethical and moral obligations

Abuse Event

Gather Data

Set Guiding Goals

Employment Decisions






Intervention Planning

Determine key constituents to help

Choose & train SCTs

Develop SCT goals & objectives

Use of outside consultants for groups or members

SCT time together

SCT time with key others

systems review before you begin
Systems review before you begin
  • Crises reveal character –O. Chambers
  • Systems have character…
    • Listen for what is of utmost importance among the leadership (appearances, business success, fear of conflict, cynicism, etc.)
  • Watch for the following reactions
    • Reactivity
    • Herding
    • Blame
    • Quick-fix
    • Undifferentiated leadership
system evaluation summary
System evaluation summary

If your primary allegiance is to your church, to the institution’s preservation, then you will sin to preserve it. If your allegiance is to Christ, you will relinquish the church, the institution, rather than sin.

Consider Spurgeon: If a thing be wrong, though you gain by it, you must spurn it. If a thing be right, though you lose by it, you must do it for the Master’s sake.

but lest we think the church is the only one with a problem
But lest we think the church is the only one with a problem…

The conflict and indifference between religion and psychology is a curious state of affairs. Although both clergy and practicing psychologists are involved in counseling relationships and interested in emotional and behavioral outcomes among those with whom they work, they generally appear to do so in isolation without much guidance from each other.

Thomas Plante

Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, 1999

why the divide
Why the divide?
  • Stepping on toes? Whose turf?
  • Lack of vision for collaboration
    • Counselors take difficult parishioners
    • Clergy are a good source of referrals
    • Is that it?
  • Anecdotes (and story-telling) form reality
  • Counselor missteps?
    • Bad theology/exegetical errors & “integration” errors
    • Protecting the victim without a proper foundation
    • Indiscrete criticism of the church
are we competent to serve clergy
Are we competent to serve clergy?
  • How are we doing in our communication, respect, shared values? Consider this survey:
    • ¼ of pastors described a positive experience with good communication. But most didn’t. Seems to rarely happen and too frequently negative
    • Clergy perceive we don’t respect them
      • 13% describe us as arrogant and uncooperative. “no respect for what I had to bring to the table.”
      • Clergy do see us as having skills they do not possess but psychologists do not return this view
    • We often fail to find common goals/values
    • We fail to speak a similar vocabulary

McMinn, Aikins & Lish (2003). Basic and advanced competence in collaborating with clergy. PP: R&P, 34, 197-2002

bridge the gap by
Bridge the gap by…
  • Communicate!
    • Defuse conflict, fear, confusion with transparency & openness
    • Learn their language and their values; validate!
    • Address ethical and funding matters up front
  • Build trust with leadership
    • Do what you say you will do. Don’t overpromise
    • Remember it takes time to undo prior suspicion
    • Give evidence that you can learn from and be influenced by leadership
    • Show the fruit of humility and fraternity
  • Offer both indirect and direct aid
victim related interventions
Victim related interventions
  • Address safety matters
  • Prioritize the victim’s connection to worship
  • Determine leadership oversight (don’t forget gender issues)
  • Form small group of “listeners” who can also be the victim’s voice
  • Speak to attempts to lay blame
  • If possible, provide separate victim and church counselors
offender related interventions
Offender related interventions
  • Your job: help them wake from a coma
  • The use of SCTs along with traditional counseling and discipleship
develop a map for success
Develop a map for success
  • Ideally, we should:
    • Study the vast array of issues, teach the whole congregation from front and back, develop prevention plans, and address problems as they occur
  • But, realistically…
    • Build committedSpiritual Care Teams, learn together the key issues, develop a plan of action for healing, Communicate and educate, Plan for future prevention
choose spiritual care teams
Choose spiritual care teams
  • Teams for congregation, offender, victims
    • Consider the character of potential members
      • Spiritually mature, prayerful, self-aware, able to listen, willing to learn, gentle but willing to confront, confidential, safe, not controlling, collaborative, patient
    • Require 2 year minimum commitment of time
      • Determine how the group will make decisions, learn together, and function together
    • Determine how to collaborate with other teams, leadership, and outside agencies
a tale of two teams
A tale of two teams…
  • Team 1
    • Strong leaders, strong personalities, no-nonsense attitudes. Sees job as exposing the sins and weaknesses of the victim
    • Too busy, long periods of time without contact
  • Team 2
    • Meets weekly to pray and fellowship
    • Educator background
    • Identifies progress and needs but not pressing
the purpose of the sct is
The purpose of the SCT is…
  • To provide support and assistance to a person with acute spiritual needs and return person to fellowship with God, family and fellow believers
  • To provide the opportunity for shattered people to receive comfort, opportunity to dig deeply and repent deeply, and grow spiritually (there may be other roots, but team will explore spiritual roots)
  • To bring hope to those who are broken, disillusioned, and in need of restoration
  • To penetrate denial and clarify reality
  • Intercession and combined wisdom in leading
  • Provide guidance, accountability, and direction to for others seeking to help shattered individuals and families
  • Encourage the whole community that the church is part of the healing process and so avoid the tendency to either throw out the sinner or the victim or ignore the sinner and victim.

From Wilson et al, Restoring the Fallen

it is not to
It is not to…
  • Provide professional counseling
  • Determine veracity of facts
  • Make church judicial decisions
prepare the scts
Prepare the SCTs
  • Spiritual work means warfare
    • Worship and study together
  • Group learning (biblical and experiential)
    • Abuse, abuse of power, deception/denial, their impact on others, protection, true and false repentance, restoration, restitution, forgiveness, healing, etc.
    • Restoration processes (time, process, fruit?)
      • Who or what will drive the group’s work?
  • Group training
  • Creating a plan of action
group training
Group training
  • Explore how the group functions together with and without their ministry target
    • When it comes to data collection, exploration, confrontation, assessment, decision-making
    • When it comes to worship, fun, personal issues
    • When it comes to collaborating with outsiders (some of whom may not share the group’s view)
  • Common areas of weakness? Validation; good questions, listening for what is missing
sct plan of action for restoration
SCT Plan of Action for restoration
  • Protection from self and others; boundaries set
  • Truth-telling about the abuse
  • Submission to process and acceptance of spiritual mentors
  • Discovery of roots of abuse and other sin (naming things from God’s view; hearing from others)
  • Deeper Truth-telling about life patterns and God’s sanctifying work
  • Restitution (acknowledges injustice and seeks to correct it)
  • Repentance (from actions and attitudes)
  • Reconnection to the larger body of Christ
your relationship to the sct
Your relationship to the SCT
  • Summarize and synthesize the data collected by the SCT
  • Focus questions and areas of growth
  • Identify dynamic or personal barriers to the work of the SCT
  • Keep track of growth, hope, and future directions
  • Review communication to the larger leadership and congregation
preventing leader abuse
(Preventing Leader Abuse?)
  • Indirect service:
    • Develop SCTs for pastor families
  • Direct service
    • Provide confidential sessions (therapy or spiritual direction) for leaders and family members
troubleshooting problems
Troubleshooting problems
  • When progress stalls
    • Waiting for someone to be repentant?
    • When a group doesn’t work or is worn out
  • Premature restoration
    • Mechanical vs. spiritual restoration (Tavis Smiley)
    • Fairness vs. blessing the victim
  • Power conflicts and system issues
  • Dual relationships: Who is your client?
  • Abuse reporting and theological grounding
church wide interventions
Church wide interventions
  • Give opportunities to express hurts/pains
  • Educate regarding key topics about sin, righteousness, leadership, abuse, etc.
  • Provide information regarding common responses to leader abuse
  • Cast a vision from Philippians 3:12f
counselor summary
Counselor Summary
  • Prepare yourself
  • Education
  • Develop a map for success using SCTs
  • Prep for common problems
  • Train and supervise SCTs
prepare yourself
Prepare Yourself
  • Evaluate your readiness to love the congregation with patience, truth-telling, and humility
  • Remember the overarching goals and facets of a biblical response to abuse
  • Identify deficiencies (spiritual, professional, etc.)
  • Memorize your consultant mantra:
    • listen well; be willing to learn;
    • validate the dreams and concerns of leadership;
    • provide reasoning for the clear direction you offer;
    • leave final decisions to the leadership
  • Where is the finish line?
    • How do you know when restoration is complete? When repentance is enough?
  • Why does the victim get the final say?
    • Who drives the decisions of protection? What if victims are in charge?
  • Can a Christian leader ever return to ministry?
    • Ezek. 44?
  • What are the pit-falls of this kind of work?
know your five r s
Know your five R’s

Know the differences between:

  • Restriction
  • Repentance
  • Restitution
  • Reconciliation
  • Restoration
helpful books
Helpful Books
  • Armstrong, J.H. (1995). Can fallen pastors be restored? Chicago, IL: Moody Press.
  • Friedman, E.H. (1985). From generation to generation: Family Process in church and Synagogue. NY: Guilford Press.
  • Freidman, E.H. (2007). A failure of nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix. Seabury Books.
  • Grenz, S. & Bell, R. (1995). Betrayal of trust: Sexual misconduct in the pastorate. Downers Grove: IVP.
  • Hoge, D.R., & Wenger, J.E. (2005). Pastors in transition: Why clergy leave local church ministry. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
  • Hopkins, N. M. (1998). The congregational response to clergy betrayals of trust. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.
helpful books1
Helpful Books
  • Hopkins, N. M. & Laaser, M. (1995). Restoring the soul of a church: Healing congregations wounded by clergy sexual misconduct. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press.
  • Langberg, D. (2003). Counseling survivors of sexual abuse. Xulon Press.
  • Langberg, D. (1999). On the threshold of hope: Opening the door to healing for survivors of sexual abuse. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.
  • Pedigo, T.L. (2004). Restoration manual: A workbook for restoring fallen ministers and religious leaders. Colorado Springs: Winning Edge Ministries.
  • Wilson, E. & S., Friesen, P & V, Paulson, L & N. (1997). Restoring the fallen: A team approach to caring, confronting, & reconciling. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.
  • Yantzi, M. (1998). Sexual offending and restoration. Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press.
helpful websites
Helpful Websites
  • G.R.A.C.E (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).
  • PASCH (Peace and Safety in the Christian Home)
helpful articles chapters
Helpful articles & chapters
  • Langberg, D. (1996). Clergy sexual abuse. In Kroeger & Beck (eds) Women, abuse, and the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.  
  • Maxwell, J. (2006). Devastated by an affair: How churches heal after the pastor commits adultery. Christianity Today.
  • Monroe, P. (2006). Abusers & true repentance. Christian Counseling Today, 13:3, 48-49. Found at:
  • Reed, E. (Winter, 2006). Restoring fallen pastors. Leadership Magazine. Found at:
church psychology collaboration
Church/Psychology Collaboration
  • Book title
    • McMinn, M.R., & Dominguez, A.W. (2005). Psychology and the Church. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers. [collection of articles]
  • Key Article titles
    • What evangelicals want to know about psychology (JPT, 29(2), 2001, pp 99-105)
    • Training Psychologists to work with religious organizations (Professional Psychology: Research & Practice, 32(3), 2001, pp 324-328)
    • Psychology and the church: an exemplar…of collaboration (PP:R&P 31(5), 2000, pp 515-520)
    • A collaborative relationship between professional psychology and the Roman Catholic Church (PP:R&P 30(6), 1999, pp 541-546.
the following slides provide
The following slides provide
  • Information you may find helpful in communicating to church leaders
    • Sample information about abuse
    • Sample goals
    • Biblical vision for the church
    • Sample education for the church
    • 10 Overarching principles
      • From Langberg & Monroe, 2007 World Conference
sample information about abuse
Sample information about abuse
  • Types
    • It takes many forms—both subtle and obvious
    • 2 categories: family abuse; leader abuse
    • Victims and offenders rarely fit neat categories
  • The effect
    • The ripple effect: an enlarging pool of victims
    • Division always ensues due to conflicting pressures, emphases, and goals
  • The need
    • A vision in the church for the protection and healing of the abused
common church responses
Common church responses
  • Deceptive responses
    • Denial: It didn’t happen, she’s crazy!
    • Minimization: It only happened once. We all sin
    • Misnaming: It was an affair (leader abuse)
  • Impulsive responses
    • Premature reconciliation (Jesus comes to redeem)
    • Demanding cut-offs (throw the evil-doer out)
    • Harshness (discipline; speaking truth in love)
  • Abandonment
    • Moving victims on to new churches
    • Secrecy (it will harm too many to know it…)
a vision for the church
A vision for the church?
  • PHP 3:12 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
  • ISA 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
sample goals for the church
Sample goals for the church
  • Providing safety for bruised reeds
  • Bearing witness
  • Dealing with fear, anger, hopelessness
  • Encouraging restoration and healing (without demanding it)
  • Providing mercy ministry
  • Introducing the Resurrection as THE healing power
  • Uncovering lies and pointing to the truth
  • Probable Topics
    • Abuse (deception plus power), impact of abuse, patterns of healing (victim, offender, congregation), repentance, forgiveness, restoration, reconciliation, truth telling, leader responsibilities, legal/ethical matters
    • Common restorative practices
    • Necessity of team approach
    • Systemic assessments
  • Audience
    • Key leaders
    • Broader congregation

QUESTION: Are you speaking a language they understand?

10 overarching principles
10 Overarching principles
  • Abuse in the church impacts many
    • Leaders need a large umbrella if they are going to serve those involved
  • When many are impacted, division is common
    • Leaders remember they must be advocates for truth, justice, and grace
  • Protection of the “least of these” takes precedence
    • Leaders understand abuse of power and provide tangible protection for the body of Christ
10 overarching principles1
10 Overarching principles
  • Never underestimate the power of self-deception
    • Caretakers recognize and work for true repentance
  • “As if you too…”
    • Caretakers work to understand the world and experiences of abuser and abused “as if” they themselves were in their shoes
10 overarching principles2
10 Overarching principles
  • Premature restoration is tempting
    • Leaders resist the temptation to rush back to life “the way it used to be” but work to cultivate maturity, healing, and holy obedience to God
  • Wisdom comes from God—not committees
    • Leaders immerse themselves in the study of God’s Word and prayer to discern His perspective on all issues pertaining to abuse and restoration
  • Crises reveal character
    • Leaders use crises to explore and correct individual and systemic defects
10 overarching principles3
10 Overarching principles
  • The Church is not ours
    • Leaders remember not to harm the church: to purify themselves first before working to purify the bride of Christ
  • The redemptive work of Christ in ALL is our goal
    • Leaders promote an atmosphere of grace, mercy and justice for all
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