The Rev. Scott Sauls, a prominent evangelical Christian pastor, and author, has been placed on an indefinite leave of absence from his position as the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. The announcement was made during a member meeting on Sunday (May 7).
Sauls apologized for his leadership style in a video message to the congregation, acknowledging that it had been unhealthy and harmful to those around him. He spoke of being verbally critical of others’ work, using social media and the pulpit to suppress dissenting viewpoints, and manipulating facts to support his own agenda.
“I verbalized insensitive and verbal criticism of others’ work,” he said, according to a recording of the meeting shared with Religion News Service. “I’ve used social media and the pulpit to quiet dissenting viewpoints. I’ve manipulated facts to support paths that I desire.”
Sauls had been serving as the pastor of Christ Presbyterian since 2012 and had gained a significant following as an influential voice within the evangelical community. He is also the author of several books, including “Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear” and “From Weakness to Strength: 8 Vulnerabilities That Can Bring Out the Best in Your Leadership.”
While on indefinite leave from his role as pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Sauls clarified that he had not engaged in any sexual misconduct or substance abuse. He expressed his intention to utilize the time away to receive counseling, seek repentance for his actions, and strive towards reconciling with those he may have hurt.
“I am grieved to say that I have hurt people,” he said. “I want to say to all of you that I am sorry.”
The decision to place Sauls on leave was made by the church’s elders after they became aware of concerns about his leadership style. In a statement released on Sunday, the elders said that they had been in discussion with Sauls for several months and that they had concluded that a leave of absence was necessary.
Sauls is not the first prominent evangelical pastor to face scrutiny over his leadership style. In recent years, several high-profile pastors have been accused of using their power and influence to bully and manipulate those around them.
It is unclear when or if Sauls will return to his position at Christ Presbyterian. In his video message to the congregation, he said that he was committed to making changes in his leadership style and that he hoped to return to the church at some point in the future.