Days after his presence at the Together for the Gospel conference was heavily criticised, CJ Mahaney preached about the biblical mandate for churches to defend their pastors.
T4G was heavily criticised for allowing Mahaney, one of its founders and now pastor of Louisville's Sovereign Grace Church, to preach because of previous accusations that he and other leaders of Covenant Life Church (CLC) in Gaithersburgh, Maryland, were complicit in covering up crimes committed by its youth leader Nathaniel Morales.
On Sunday, days after the controversy, Mahaney preached from Hebrews 13:17: "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account."
He said that church members should have "a joyful disposition to trust and protect the pastoral team.
"Any slanderous comment about the pastoral team should be challenged, and if necessary resolved," Mahaney said. "Why? Because the pastors are just sensitive souls, because pastors are so sensitive? No. That protection is needed in order to preserve the trust, in order to protect the unity of this church. That's why that's needed ultimately, for the advance of the gospel from this church."
Mahaney's appearance at the T4G conference was challenged by variuos groups, including SNAP, an advocacy and support group for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
Giving men like Mahaney a platform "contributes to the already strong sense of powerlessness that many who saw, suspected and suffered sexual abuse within churches feel. It decreases the chances they'll find the courage and hope needed to speak up about horrific wrongs. Essentially it sanctions the concealing of sexual assault against children," it said.
In his sermon on Sunday, he alluded to the "great privilege" and "deep honour" of speaking at T4G, before saying that it didn't come close to "the honour and privilege of standing here before you".
Speaking about the role of a pastor, Mahaney said on Sunday that they are "called to watch over your souls. It is your soul that is most important to us. It is your soul that is our main concern," he said.
"Our care for you is not simply or primarily about the present.
"No, actually it's informed by the future. ... Our concern today is to give all of our energy to you, to serving you, watching over you, to prepare your soul for that final day. Our concern is with your soul in relation to heaven and hell."