The UK evangelical church must address power abuse, prioritise victims, and combat self-promotion, says the Evangelical Alliance following the investigation into Soul Survivor's Mike Pilavachi.
On Wednesday, the Church of England's National Safeguarding Team (NST) revealed Pilavachi had used his spiritual authority to "control people" and had engaged in "inappropriate relationships, the physical wrestling of youths, and massaging of young male interns" during the last 40 years.
The findings resulted from a four-month-long investigation into safeguarding concerns raised against him earlier this year.
In a statement to Premier, Gavin Calver, CEO of the Evangelical Alliance, said the evangelical church in the UK "must do better".
"Too often we are hearing stories of misuse and abuse of power in our churches and by our leaders. Too often we are hearing that individual power is being protected at the expense of victims being heard or believed. Too often we are seeing accounts where faithful service to the gospel is being exchanged for platform and self-promotion.
"As painful as it is, we must not resist the work of God's Spirit to bring to light that which has been hidden in the shadows," he continued.
Calver also emphasised the importance of recognising and eradicating environments, cultures, and structures that allow abuse to thrive and urged leaders, including himself, to prioritise their "walk with Jesus".
"Leaders, we need to do all we can to walk faithfully and humbly with Jesus, putting integrity above ease and popularity, listening to those with experience and wisdom on what needs to change and how. There can be no place for abusive behaviour in our churches; we must ensure our communities are healthy and thriving in the days ahead and we at the Evangelical Alliance will do all we can to support all our members, to listen and learn as we serve sacrificially, love the church and support those who have been victims of abuse," he added.
Calver also acknowledged "the bravery" of those who shared their stories and described as "heartbreaking" the "longevity and the consistency" of the investigation's findings.
Church network New Frontiers has also shared its “deep sadness at the news” in a statement on its website.
It read: “We are grateful for those who have come forward and shared their experiences. We want to express our sympathy to them and assure them of our prayers.
“Because Mike is someone who has spoken in various Newfrontiers contexts over many years, we want to communicate our deep sadness at the news, our confidence in the process, and our heartfelt concern for those who have bravely come forward. The church is called to be a place where people can find security, safety and care. The kind of behaviour detailed in the report should never be tolerated in the church, least of all by those in leadership.”