This is as shocking as it is not, John Blanchard, senior pastor at Rock Church has been caught in a sting operation soliciting a minor for sex. The sting was orchestrated by the Chesterfield County Police Special Victims Unit, netting 17 arrests including Blanchard. Appointed senior pastor at the megachurch Rock in Virginia Beach in 2013 along with his wife, the arrest happened on the 29th of October. Church officials have not released a statement as I write this post, and he’s still prominently pictured on the church’s website.

When I said this is as shocking as it is not, I was thinking back to our (MCF founders1) own experience at our previous church, Moyock United Methodist. I can still remember very vividly the call I received early one morning that the Chair of the Church Trustees had been arrested for three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. This trustee had been a member of the church for a very long time and was one of the hardest-working men in the congregation. His arrest, prosecution, and conviction are something that is still a bit hard to understand.

My sermons on Sunday, October 24th and 31st discussed pastors are not always what they appear to be. Blanchard’s arrest is another stunning example of this. 1 Timothy 3:2 says, “Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” An overseer is a preacher, pastor, priest, etc., and the scripture is very clear on how we are to behave. But, in sharing this story we have to remember we are all sinners. Blanchard has sinned in a manner that garners a great deal of media coverage. He has time to repent, to heal, to do better.

We are not here to judge John Blanchard, our Lord Jesus Christ will take care of that, and I would suggest Jesus would rather we all let Him do His job. What we all need to do is pray for John Blanchard, his wife Robin, and their two daughters. This will be an incredibly difficult time for his family, and his prosecution could take a year or longer. His family will be worn tired by the time his case is resolved, and it won’t end then either. If you’re asking why we should pray for John given what he has been accused of, the scripture makes it clear that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. Later in Romans 6:23, we’re told that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Lastly 1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” So let’s pray for the sinner. We can still hate the sin, and we don’t have to forget the sin. But we need to give difference to forgiving the sinner.

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to You so thankful for Your abundant and amazing grace. Today it is Your grace that we are in search of. John Blanchard whom you know well has broken your laws and our earthly civil laws as well. His arrest for soliciting sex from a minor is shocking to the Hampton Roads community and devastating to his family and church. We pray a burden of repentance is on John’s heart, and that the demons that influenced him to become a child predator be pushed behind him so that he can see you once again. Please be with his wife Robin and their children during this difficult time, and bring comfort and healing to his congregation at the Rock church. We ask all these things in the name of Your son Jesus Christ. Amen

Brother Thom

1 Moyock Christian Fellowship