In helping organizations navigate the challenge of moving on after the moral failure of fallen pastors or leaders, one of the big questions I hear is “What do we do with the decades of books the pastor published, the sermons he preached, or the TV programs, social media, or video resources that he or she created?
There’s two answers – one is for the organization, and the other is for private individuals.
For the organization – I strongly recommend taking everything offline immediately if not sooner. Very often critics (especially online trolls) will use those books or video messages to criticize or make fun of the church or nonprofit. Take that material out of your bookstore, get them off your online store, and delete social media accounts, YouTube channels, and anything else.
If the organization is going to move past a fallen leader, having resources around that constantly remind people of that leader isn’t going to help. So no matter how much effort it takes, focus on the future, not the past.
However, for individual believers or followers of that person, I’m more flexible. In some cases, the sin, mistakes, and violations of fallen pastors and leaders can be so serious that no matter how excellent their books, teaching, or other resources, I would get rid of it all in my own personal library. There are plenty of other reputable leaders and teachers to follow. So if any book or other resource in your home or office is distasteful because of the sin of the writer or teacher, then by all means toss it.
On the other hand, in many cases before they fell, the man or woman was indeed called by God, and was truly insightful, and sometimes brilliant. In those cases, keeping some or all of those resources may be personally desirable – particularly if you’re a writer, pastor, or other content creator and use that material for research.
In the case of Ravi Zacharias for instance, most would agree that he was one of the most gifted apologists of our generation. Therefore his books and teaching materials can be a great benefit for Christians long into the future. However for others, the revelations of his behavior are simply too much to overcome – and that’s completely understandable as well.
So from a personal perspective in your own home or office, the decision is yours.
What about you? What recommendations would you make on this issue?
This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.