Glen Scrivener was “hit very hard” earlier this year when an investigation led by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries concluded that there was credible evidence that its founder had engaged in sexual misconduct.

For the director and evangelist at Speak Life, this scandal serves as a sobering wake-up call, especially for evangelists, and an opportunity to, once again, learn the way of the cross. I spoke with Glen to find out more.

For readers who are unfamiliar with Speak Life, tell us a little about the charity.

We are an evangelistic ministry and we’re convinced that what you love you share. A central verse for us is Matthew 12:34: From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” We want to fill the hearts of Christians with a love for Jesus in the confidence that, from the fullness of hearts, we overflow in witness to the world. Through proclamation, media and training, we try to proclaim Christ to the church in a contagious way so that the church witnesses Christ to the world. You can find out more at speak​life​.org​.uk


You have been involved in conversations about spiritual and sexual abuse within the community of faith following revelations about the late Ravi Zacharias. What had struck you about this case?

It hit me very hard because I am an evangelist seeking to make Jesus known in the world. I recognised that with this scandal you had something destructive to the cause of Christ in the world. It doesn’t matter how polished you are as a speaker, if your life and lips don’t go together, that is catastrophic for the witness of the church. This is a real wake-up call, especially for evangelists.

Seeking lost sheep is one part of the ministry that Christ has given to His church; there’s also the shepherding of those sheep, and the protecting of the flock from wolves. It seems that we have divorced the seeking of the lost sheep from the protection and provision for the flock, which is devastating for those who want to see the lost won and brought home to the sheepfold. If we cannot keep our flock safe, then why are we trying to add more to the sheepfold?

There are issues about hypocrisy in leadership and a lack of transparency, authenticity and honesty. There are serious questions to ask about whether we have invested in glitz, glamour, platform and ego when Jesus wants shepherds who walk in His path – the way of the cross, self-denial, humility and transparency. We must not try to do the Lord’s work in the way of the flesh.

It’s got so many resonances for me. There are huge lessons for us in the global church as we seek to make Christ known, and I wanted to draw attention to those lessons because in the UK there are scandals that are in the process of coming to light. We must not look away at this time. We must look into these very dark places, shine the light and repent. We must humble ourselves and learn whatever the Lord is teaching us.

Scandals of this nature unsettle the Christian community. How do we remain rooted in Jesus, our sure foundation? And how do we, from that position, confront this type of thing?

We have everything we need in Christ and in the scriptures to handle these scandals. Part of the horror of it is just how anti-Christ these scandals are. Here are people who should have known better; and we the body of Christ must do better because we’ve been taught far better than this.

Jesus has taught us – in fact, He has taught the whole world – that power must be used in service, that hypocrisy is a diabolical sin, that the way forward is repentance and letting in the light, that the body is a temple and that sex is sacred. It’s Jesus who makes sense of the horrors of abuse. May these scandals draw us closer to Him.

What can we learn from Saint Paul, who exhorted the Philippians to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ and told the Colossians to put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of their earthly body?

Paul can make these calls to the church because he teaches so powerfully about the cross. In Philippians we have got the wonderful hymn of the cross in chapter two: Christ, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Jesus made Himself nothing and took on the nature of a slave. Similarly, in the first chapter of Colossians, Christ is the image of the invisible God, who reconciled all things by the blood of His cross.

"Paul can make these calls to the church because he teaches so powerfully about the cross."

Paul bases all His teaching on the way of Jesus; and the way of Jesus is to use whatever platform, authority or power you have in the service of those without it. Lying behind sexual scandals, financial scandals and spiritual abuse is an abuse of power.

We need to recentre ourselves on Jesus, who came to serve, to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Here is an opportunity to, once again, learn the way of the cross.

Abuse within the church and within faith communities can also erode or even destroy non-believers trust in the church as an institution and their trust in individual Christians and fellowships. How do we witness to a wary people who may say, But you lot…”?

At some stage, a conversation needs to be had where we say to churches and to the world, if you really want to oppose abuse, come home to Jesus. It’s Jesus who gives you the right to call such sins anti-Christ, because that’s what they are. These scandals do not teach us that we need less of Jesus; they teach us that we need so much more of Him.

In the meantime, our posture is a posture of repentance, humility and learning; and I think, even in that, there is a witness that we bear in taking that posture (witness in the Greek is the word martyr). There is a kind of death that witnesses to Jesus; and there’s a kind of response to this that says, we must decrease so that Christ can increase.

We take it on the chin, and we say to the world – which has its own me too crises’ – You’re absolutely right, it’s indefensible, and there’s no excuse for representatives of Christ to act in anti-Christ ways.” At that point we trust the Lord to witness even through our repentance. I think that can be a refreshing response to sin.

The world is sick and tired of cover-ups, hypocrisy, self-justification. We mustn’t say, For the sake of witnessing to the world, we will plaster on a veneer and pretend everything is okay. We must go the way of the cross: take the lid off and let the light in, as uncomfortable as that is. We’re to trust that the Lord can actually reveal to the world that here is a different response to sin, not the response of the cover-ups, but a response of repentance and humility.

Can you recommend anything for us to read or watch to grow in our faith and witness amid the stuff that goes down in the world and in the church?

Three quite recent books are really helpful for us to reorient ourselves. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund, which doesn’t mention abuse but gets to the heart of this theology of the cross and going the way of humility. Ortlund takes us back to Matthew 11, when Jesus says, My heart is gentle and lowly”; it’s a wonderful meditation on the heart of Christ. While we revel in Christ’s heart for us, the book is also a challenge for us to go the way of gentle lowliness, rather than the way of platform, ego and power-trips.

The two others are far more specific about abuse scandals. Taking Christ as our model, Dr Diane Langberg in her book Redeeming Power says we need to acknowledge that everyone has power. If you think you don’t, you’re liable to abuse the power that you have because you’re not thinking about how to steward it. She then explains how, in the way of Christ, we can steward our authority.

Third, A Church Called Tov by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer. The book uses some test cases of churches that have responded very poorly to abuse allegations and churches that have responded better to allegations. It really brings us back to how the gospel shapes church culture and how it ought to shape church culture.