This summer, formerly disgraced mega-church pastor, Ted Haggard began a new church in Colorado Springs.
And apparently in just a few short months St. James church is flourishing.
No, not at all.
Not quite remembering Pastor Haggard's name? Google his name and "scandal" and you'll quickly recall what happened. No need to bring it out here.
The mere fact that three and a half years have elapsed and folks DON'T quickly recall his name is actually a good sign, I think. Why?
Because the intensity of harsh judgementalism that burns bright also burns short.
And Ted Haggard knows both of these truths, I suppose. After my years of leading conservative public policy issues, only to have my son arrested on drug charges...or the years of dealing with drug addicts and then the death of my own son, Nate, by drugs, I do too. Failure at any level can be helpful, if we honestly let it.
And the Haggard family's time in their near-death desert makes me think....
Do I trust Ted Haggard to be really real THIS TIME? I'm not sure. See, I didn't really like him, LAST TIME. My days with Focus on the Family and the NAE's public policy battles were exhausting & brutal. For both our opponents and for us. Ted was too "good". So was I.
My son, Nate, in his worst drug-induced heroin haze always seemed to see through the frosty-clean edges of Evangelical niceness and call it b.s. He was real when I wasn't. God was real with Ted when Ted wasn't.
In fact, Ted's cameo on the documentary film "Jesus Camp" broke my heart. His smiling eyes didn't match his smiling mouth...because he wasn't really smiling at all, I think....just posing, like many of us.
The two film-makers captured the insincerity, though it wasn't hard to do, I bet.
But this summer...Ted Haggard smiles. So does his bride, Gayle. So do his kids. My sweet Susan made a statement to me that was key: "I wonder what his kids think of him." From what I've seen so far, his family is smiling once again....and that includes his kids.
And I like that about them...and about Ted.
He seems to be real...and his realness is refreshing.
I could care less about what some people may have wanted him to do, prior to opening another church. If God blesses Ted, Gayle and their kids He will do so whether anyone else feels one way or the other about them.
And Ted Haggard may finally have something really real to say from the pulpit.