Why the institutional church’s deafening silence about Mike Pilavachi’s abuses?
Dan Holland considers the present situation.
It’s been almost three months now since the C of E investigation found Mike Pilavachi‘guilty’, as linked here: Conclusion of Mike Pilavachi investigation | Law & Religion UK (lawandreligionuk.com) . I have waited expectantly for some, or all, of the connected national leaders to comment. Prior to the conclusion of this investigation they said they awaitedits outcome. The shameful silence since has been deafening, and they have had ample warning. Some local church leaders have bravely tackled this issue head-on with their own congregations, but they are the exception. Nationally recognised leaders who have shared stages with Mike Pilavachi, lauded him to the skies even when aware of the accusations, and worked closely with Soul Survivor, seem proverbially to have ‘circled their waggons’. Where is righteousness and justice (Psalm 89v 14)?
I expected fulsome repentance and self-reflection. We needed, yes deserved, some help and contrition from them. Is the current delay aimed at allowing us to quietly forget? The victims never will. No one seems willing to condemn what is now in broad daylight.To ignoreabuse means the future holds bitter fruit, evil has multiplication. One only needs to look at the recurrent family devastation in King David’s family after he refused to confront Amnon’s rape of Tamar (2 Sam 13).There has been a craven distancing from association with Mike Pilavachi and minimising of any organisational ties.
Abusers and enablers
So who am I to wade into this ghastly subject? Well, I love Jesus, I love the church and I passionately advocate for victims. I hate the way this has been handled. I don’t have any personal connections but know some who do. Reputations seem to have been protected far more than brave victims. The report describes behaviour which would not be acceptable in a secular workplace. How much more disgraceful is it in the church?Have we become so acclimatised to church abuse that it barely moves the needle anymore?
Where does this leave the churches that welcomed Mike Pilavachi to their stages, conferences and networks?Most importantly,what of the victims who have had to work very hard to be heard above the ‘cognitive dissonance’ and ‘damage limitation’? They will have painfully encountered and overcome all the usual silencing techniques of abusers and enablers.
Perhapssome Christians are feeling relief thatthis subject is halfway back under the carpet, supplanted by huge global concerns. I waited for other voices to be raised and for someone else to put their head above the parapet and challenge this ungodly silence. But the stones are not crying out, God needs us to pronounce the unpalatable truth. I feel ashamed by the cowardice, complicity and self-protection activein the church, as much as I am impressed by the bravery and grace of survivors. I wish that articles like this were never necessary.The church deserves more.The victims deserve much more. Those that read breathless reports in the secular media about Soul Survivor’s runaway success, deserve more. Most importantly, Jesus deserves more from His church and His leaders. Is He right now inspecting the lampstands (Rev 1v 13)?
This gaping, infected wound is not just going to heal itself. Strong sunlight is needed, and integrity is the only way. Otherwise our wound is incurable (Jeremiah 30v 12). Perhaps greater moral courage than the church has ever known is required to stop this abominable cycle of destruction. The pattern goes something like this, the disgraced leaders goes under the radar for a few years and then re-emerges with an ‘air-brushed’ image. Its then full steam ahead, with no backwards glance to give a heartfelt apology to their victims.
Mike (or substitute AN-other fallen leader) also needs something different than to be rushed back onto these same big platforms by the same national leaders with an unrepentant message of rehabilitation. Why are people so desperate to rush fallen leaders back into ministry? Should they ever be there again? Is this so that we can then revert to our collective ‘cognitive dissonance’?
This cancer of abuse, control and manipulation metastasizes if we ignore it, deflect it, and absolve ourselves from necessary corporate responsibility. Sometimes ‘submissive’ silence is ugly enabling. We all now have an opportunity to grow in truth, integrity and something you almost never hear now, ‘tough love’. Equally we could shrink into shame and irrelevance. This applies for all of us, not just leaders (because there but the grace of God go we), our church culture needs tobecome more Christ-like. A church that will boldly discern, confront and banish such abuse, and not just when there is no other option, is the only one that can bring hope to the world. Turn up the light and turn up the love! You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt 5v 14)
Daniel Holland is Lead Evangaelist with Through Faith Missions. He wrote “Prophetic Evangelism – Kingdom Exploits in the Risk Zone” , published via Christian Publications International: https://christian-publications-int.com/PropheticEvangelism.html .
ProphecyToday UKreview of “Prophetic Evangelism”: https://prophecytoday.uk/study/resources/item/2076-review-prophetic-evangelism.html