Scott Crenshaw, senior pastor of the multi-campus New River Church in Texas who is recovering from cancer, was removed from his post at the helm of the church two Sundays ago for "viewing inappropriate images" on his computer while he was at work.
In a statement to his church, Crenshaw said he was "sickened and embarrassed" by his actions and said he was stepping away from his leadership role so he could heal.
"First off, I would like to thank the New River family for the prayers, scriptures and encouragement that you have sent me during my cancer journey. Ten days of hospital time, complications and recovery have ended in a clean bill of health from this week's visit to the doctor," the pastor said.
Crenshaw said that as he sought to overcome his cancer, God decided to show him other areas of his life in which he needed help and said his viewing of the "inappropriate images" did not align with the man God had called him to be.
"Recently I have fallen into areas of temptation that sicken and embarrass me. Please hear this: I am not embezzling or having an affair, but I have found myself viewing inappropriate images that are not in line with what God calls me to be. I have always preached that New River was not a museum for perfect people, but a hospital for those who are hurting, jacked up and messed up. If this church is only for perfect people, then it would be very small and you would be without a pastor," he noted.
"We have always taught that hurting people are welcomed here for God's love, mercy, healing and even discipline. Well, now it's my turn. I have watched the crowds come in and encounter the healing hand of our God. No one is exempt from sin and no one is exempt from God's healing grace, including me. For this reason, I am stepping to the side for a season of healing and restoration. I am submitting to the leadership of our board of directors, as well as other qualified leadership, who will be walking me through counseling and restoration," he added.
The church said in a statement that they were forced to remove Crenshaw from his position when intervention efforts failed.
"While this is the most difficult and painful decision we have had to make, it was necessary. Scott has made some unfortunate choices that have caused us much concern. Leadership confronted him and discussed at length the concern, the nature of which was related to inappropriate images on his church office computer," church officials said in their statement.
The board members of the church said they went through the steps of dealing with sin as outlined in Matthew 18 with their lead pastor but he chose not to properly address it. They concluded that he was unfit to lead based on Timothy 3.
"We spent hours with Scott praying diligently about seeking outside counseling, to which he has agreed. It is our desire to see complete restoration for him and hopefully return as our senior pastor; however, that is the Lord's call not ours. In the last few weeks the board of directors, the elders and many of our leadership staff have been on our knees asking for God's direction.
"We have wept deeply for Scott and for this body. In so doing the Lord has reminded us that our responsibility is to you first. We will continue to love Scott and his family during this time and we are committed to pray for their complete healing, as well as provide personal and financial support for them in the days ahead," church leaders told the New River congregation.
Congregants of the church were also encouraged not to engage in gossip about their pastor but use it as an example of things done in darkness that will come to light.
"Allow this to be a reminder that the secret things come to the light in all of us. Recognize the fear of the Lord and create an atmosphere of transparency. It is in confession to one another that we receive healing. None of us is without sin but as long as we keep things in the dark we are bound," said church officials.