Mike Pilavachi Resigns and a Prominent Musician Responds

Mike Pilavachi preaches during a Soul Survivor rally. | File photo

By Douglas LeBlanc

The Rev. Mike Pilavachi’s two-decade tenure as leader of the youth-centric Soul Survivor movement ended not with a whimper but with an Instagram post.

Pilavachi’s troubles began when multiple men said they had been subjected to wrestling and full-body massages, sometimes while Pilavachi straddled them.

Pilavachi, who was ordained in 2012 and has never married, preached against sex outside of marriage. His many accusers have said what they experienced was traumatic and left them scarred.

Soul Survivor Watford, based in a town 15 miles northwest of Central London, formally suspended Pilavachi on May 20. In mid-June, after receiving more information from the National Safeguarding Team’s investigation, the trustees of Soul Survivor Watford suspended the Rev. Andy Croft, senior pastor, and Ali Martin, an assistant pastor.

On July 11, Pilavachi acknowledged the accusations, but he mentioned receiving legal advice against saying more beyond a broad plea for forgiveness.

Beneath a photo of green tomatoes on a vine, Pilavachi wrote: “I have today resigned as Associate Pastor of Soul Survivor Watford. I have taken this step because the Church needs to heal and I have realized that my continued presence will hinder that process. I seek forgiveness from any whom I have hurt during the course of my ministry. I have, on advice, made no comment on the allegations and will not make any further public comment as I do not believe it would be good for anyone if I took part in a trial by media or social media. I pray for God’s blessing on the Church it has been a privilege and joy to serve these past 30 years.”

Pilavachi’s Instagram account is no longer public.

On July 12, Matt Redman — a globally popular composer of contemporary worship songs, including “10,000 Reasons” — joined the company of those who say they have been mistreated by Pilavachi.

“I feel particularly strongly on this issue as I myself experienced firsthand the harmful behaviors that have been described,” Redman wrote on Facebook. “I had not intended to disclose this on social media, but much of the recent narrative following Mike’s statement has compelled me to do so. I have spent years trying to fully heal from my time at Soul Survivor — and, painfully, I now know this to be the case for a lot of other people too.”

Redman’s statement was measured.

“No one is expecting perfect leaders,” he added. “Brokenness is part of our human condition. And we are all advocates for grace and redemption. But accountability is so key in these moments — especially for those who have taken on the role of leadership in the Church. It simply cannot be that if a ministry is particularly fruitful, or a leader is particularly gifted, or we ourselves have benefitted from that ministry, then we are willing to turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of others under their care. Sadly we have all seen such scenarios play out before — and as the Church we have some learning to do in this area.”

Pilavachi’s resignation followed turmoil at General Synod, especially as church members who favor strong safeguarding said the Church of England was interfering with proper inquiries. Church leaders, including the archbishops of Canterbury and York, dissolved the Independent Safeguarding Board, and said the church intends to replace it with a more clearly independent investigating team. Members of the board protested that they were experiencing regular interference from church leaders.


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