A Public & Open Letter

I have lived my entire life in a glass house.

My childhood was lived as the son of a preacher man in the Appalachians, where the public had no qualms about dropping in unannounced at the parsonage that we called “home,” exercising their duty in telling our parents how to properly “bring their hellions (meaning my brother and I) up.”

I was then transported almost immediately to twenty-plus years of glaring and relentless scrutiny on a mega-church stage.

And, if that were not enough, in an ironic twist of fate, as I wearily stepped off the stage, I fell backwards into the radical discontinuity of the social networking explosion in 2006.

Little did I know I would be leaving the stage in front of thousands each week at the mega-church only to find myself surreally living in front of tens of thousands of “followers” every day.

Some day I’m sure there will be books written about this phenomenon. Maybe there already have been. We eerily watched Randy Pausch deliver his last lecture before dying and then a few months later read @kickbee’s Tweets from the womb six months before he was born.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in death and in life, there is no such thing as privacy anymore.

In the glass parsonages of Twitter, Facebook and Google+, the public has sent me cryptic messages such as, “You’re not tweeting like yourself,” “I didn’t realize you moved to Austin,” to “How are you and Jesus?”

So, I feel I should write the following public and open letter.

From: @RandyElrod

Date: October 6, 2011 7:00:19 AM CDT

To: RandyElrod.com readers

Subject: A Public & Open Letter 

Dear long-time readers, friends and those of you I don’t even know,

It is with profound sadness in my heart that I write this post.

My wife Chris and I are divorced as of October 4th after 32 years of marriage.

As you know very well if you are a long-time reader here,  the last five years since I have transitioned from the stage and church pastorate have not been easy.

In fact, I have not coped well at all with a growing struggle with God, the church, and yes, with myself.

Please pray for our family. This is a crisis time. I want to acknowledge this situation is the result of my own bad choices.

I began intense therapy with a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin in June. He was a godsend in my life.

A few very close friends have also been beside me in grace, love and truth during this difficult time.

I am doing my best to deal with the devastation I have caused.

I am currently living in Austin, Texas and many of the pastors and members of the church communities of Gateway and Riverbend, while not agreeing with my current choices and actions, have wrapped their arms around me and are loving me unconditionally. I am also continuing weekly intense professional counseling here in Austin with a licensed psychologist.

I know we each have our struggles. But, as a leader, I also know that I am held to a higher standard. The consequences of my choices have been and continue to be sweeping, hurtful, and confusing. I take full responsibility. I am doing my best to get the help I need and hopefully someday repair the relationships I have damaged. I would be so grateful for your prayers during this time.

I have spoken candidly and honestly with Ramy Antoun, pastor at Gateway; Vince Marotte, pastor at Gateway; Carlton Dillard, pastor at Riverbend (a re:create charter alum since 2001) and the team of fifteen church leaders who are leading the effort for the inaugural re:create One Day event in Austin, TX on Oct. 19. I offered to cancel the event, but Ramy, Vince, Carlton and the leadership team believe with all their hearts that we should go ahead as planned. Gateway and Riverbend Churches in Austin are known far and wide for their ministry to broken people—and they insist that means me as well. To be honest, I sometimes have a difficult time believing this.

We also intend to proceed with the twelfth annual re:create Gathering of Creatives 2012 in Franklin. Philip Yancey, Tim Sanders and Derek Webb are already contracted. We don’t think my unfortunate circumstances should deprive fellow re:creators from gaining refreshment, encouragement and ideas from them.

From inception, we have said that re:create is not about a personality or a particular church philosophy or methodology—it is about all of us. The magic that happens every year at re:create is everyone together refreshing, encouraging and diffusing ideas. re:create is not about Randy. re:create is about all of us.

At this time, I plan not to be on stage at either event. I will continue to guide the marketing and business side of things and the schedule preparation and logistics in cooperation with a leadership team of alumni.

I truly consider myself in ICU—but my closest friends and advisors believe that continuing re:create (and life) is important.

Again, if you pray, please pray for all of us. We need it desperately.

We also need your love and grace.

I greatly value your friendship, concern and dedication to RandyElrod.com. I am also very sorry for the hurt and disappointment I may be causing you.

I am deeply regretful and humbly ask for your forgiveness and prayers.


102 Responses to “A Public & Open Letter”

  1. Hey Randy, I’m praying for you bro!

    • cindy carpenter October 6, 2011 at 11:40

      i’ve known this hurt….1989 was the year….almost 23 years and some of it feels like yesterday….but i am still in the loving game….and i know you will be too…..you are an amazing person…larry and i have great respect for you…hey…you taught me all about the “spooky ooohs” when i sang in your choir at People’s church….:)…..i will be praying for you and your family… all i know is sometimes we just do right things in wrong ways…? i admire you courage and open heart….thank you.

  2. Praying for you and your family. All will be well.

  3. Randy I will certainly pray for you and your family….and all those close to you throughout this situation.

  4. I miss seeing you at Merridee’s! Praying for you and your family.

  5. Praying for all, Randy.

  6. Randy, I am so sad to hear this news. Please know that I am praying for you and your family.

    Thankyou for being so honest and open with us.

    • Thanks, Paula. I will never forget our tea with you in Sydney with scones and devonshire cream and your sweet spirit.

  7. Randy, its been a while since we interacted online……..and I know you have met my siblings and not me BUT i feel like i know you…………you were one of the first bloggers I read……….

    I am praying for you here in Ireland :)

    Grace & Peace

  8. Randy,
    We serve a God who is in charge of miracles. I see you have put it in His hands, no better place for it. Much love and prayers.

    a fellow sinner,

  9. Janis Johnson October 6, 2011 at 08:20

    I am so sorry Randy! I understand the devastation of a broken family all too well. You are in my prayers! God bless you as you go thru this valley.

  10. Dude….

    Don’t forget the beginning to my favorite Indian Rocks song –

    I walk by faith, each step I take.

    Simple, but true, and don’t forget to clap on 2 and 4.

    Praying for you guys.

    • Oh Bob, leave it to you to provide much needed levity in any situation—no matter how dark. Thanks and I miss you guys.

  11. Oh Randy, my heart breaks for you and your family’s pain. We are all broken, but God heals the broken if we llet Him in.

    Randy, love, forgiveness, and grace are always yours to accept. Those of us that love you don’t love you any less today than we did yesterday.

    My love and prayers always,


  12. I Love you, Randy.

  13. Randy, I’m sorry, so sorry for the pain and darkness you and those you love are walking thru right now. I pray that you never lose hope, never lose sight of the One who created you to create & influence & inspire. I extend the same friendship you’ve extended to me and countless others: no judgment, genuine warmth & kindness, and grace…Marina

  14. Thank you for sharing your struggle with us; I’m sure that was difficult to do.

    My heart hurts for you and for Chris, and I pray that our forgiving and loving Father leads both of you in the way you should go.

  15. You’re not alone, though lonely;
    You’re not defeated, though devastated;
    You’re not useless, though damaged;
    You’re fully redeemable, because you’ve been redeemed!

    I love you, Randy —
    always have, always will !


  16. Trey Chandler October 6, 2011 at 09:23

    I am so sorry, Randy. Grace and peace to you and your family.

  17. I never know what to say in these situations, other than it breaks my heart to read it. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. I pray for the road ahead Randy, that God guides your steps.

  18. Randy,

    I love you and your ministry to creatives. It has made a huge difference in my life and I cannot imagine still being in ministry without the fruits of your labors. You are in my prayers and will be lifting that up every day.

  19. Randy, you have always been and continue to be an inspiration to me. I’m so very, very sorry that you are walking down this dark path. Please know that I’m praying for you and your family.

  20. You know Randy — you allowed Jeff and I to come to the Cove for a 48 hour retreat with only a singular meeting at another conference. I’m not famous. You didn’t know us, but accepted us unconditionally anyway. I haven’t forgotten that.

    I used to be terrified of pastors you know — But I sucked it up and took my husband anyway. We learned a lot from you.

    I am so sorry for your loss and for your pain.

    Christ’s death and resurrection remove the eternal consequences of our choices, but not always the worldly ones — walking through those takes time, faith, conviction, and courage. There is the other side – may you come out stronger, and more whole than ever before.

    Micheal Courtney (Failure and How I achieved it) taught me how to forgive -It was for me an emotionally violent reading experience and totally worth it- if you are so inclined, it’s a great book.

    Either way — I still count you as a friend, a shadow mentor, and a fellow artist.

    Take care my friend.

  21. Randy,

    My heart breaks for you and your family. So sorry for this devastating and dark time you have to walk through. I pray in the midst of it, you really start to understand who you are in Christ – how truly loved and accepted you are. May his arms wrap you and your family tight through this sucky time.

    You have been so special to me in the midst of my crap. I can’t begin to imagine the level of questioning and pain in your soul after all you’ve experienced…12 years has been more than enough for me. Hold on, my friend! You are loved by so many, but most importantly by the Father.

    Love you!

  22. I was reading one of the most beautiful paragraphs I’ve read in months when I was interrupted by your post. Here is a small excerpt for yourself….

    “….Muckraking is not gospel work. Witch-hunting is not gospel work. Shaming is not gospel work. Forgiving is gospel work…..

    ….as we face the sin mess, Jesus prays with us…..He takes his place alongside us and invites us to pray with him…

    ….God deals with sin by forgiving us, and when he forgives us there is more of us, not less.”

    May there be MORE of you, MORE of Chris, and MORE of the girls, and not less in the days ahead.

    Be well.

  23. Randy,
    My prayers are with you and your family. I have come to know you a bit through your online presence and appreciate what you share. I also appreciate your honest and openness in this letter. I have been through what you are going through, was out of ministry for almost ten years because of it. But through it all I came to realize in a deeper way the grace and mercy of God. May God direct you through this difficult part of the journey.

  24. I’m praying too, brother.

  25. My heart feels broken today. There have been many special moments in my life, many have been with you guys in Franklin. My prayers will be lifted up for you and your family.

  26. My heart aches. I’m very sorry to hear this. Definitely praying for you!

  27. Hey Randy so sorry to hear this. You’re in my prayers. The Lord bless you and your family.

  28. Love you Randy! You have been a blessing in my life! Please let me know if there’s any way I can be a blessing to yours. My prayers are with you brother. God is so good!

    • Thanks, Mckendree. You have been a blessing in my life as well. Honestly, the best thing you can do to be a blessing to me is first, to pray for me and my family, and then for you and your team to register for and attend re:create. It is one of the few things right now that bring me realization that my life has not been in vain.

  29. Blessed are the fallen, for they will rise up. See Proverbs 24:16

  30. Randy,
    this letter takes guts…to go on public record (we are all on public record now) and admit our sin and ask forgiveness for the hurts we cause. This is the lament we all share; not just you.
    I’d ask that you reconsider your desire to go “behind the scene” in your conference endeavors. It may be hard for you to face people in the eye, but I am bolstered when you do. I learn much more from sinners who repent (“turn around”) then I do from people who have always led a godly life. But we need to see you–in public—acting in your new transformed way.
    It is this example that is most valuable. It gives me hope that my transformation is also accepted by others and is a shining light to others that permanent change is possible. But we have to see you and know that you are true.
    Blessings and prayers for you and your entire family.
    Hope to see you again soon.

    • Thanks so much, Agatha. I still am in ICU as of this moment. Let’s see what the future brings. I so appreciate your words. More than I can express.

  31. Randy,

    I’m so sorry. Ashley and I will be praying for you guys.


  32. Tanny Santamaria October 6, 2011 at 12:03

    Praying for healing, grace for you and the family. God is near my friend!

  33. I will definitely keep you and your family in my prayers. May God bless you richly for your transparency, humbleness, and also for your determination to uncover and deal with the underlying causes of the decisions you now regret.

    Though the pain is great now and it may be hard to envision a positive outcome, try to hang onto the fact that God never wastes a hurt…

    You are loved and you are covered by His grace… you have been redeemed.

  34. I’ll be praying for you and all involved Randy.

  35. Cool thing is, to me you’re not “Randy…with heaps of baggage and burden,” you’re just, “Randy.”

  36. Randy~ You know me not.
    I’ve been lurking for a while.
    I am so sorry for your news,
    but so appreciate your transparency.
    Remember, He is ever Faithful.
    Praying for healing for you and yours.

  37. John Maikowski October 6, 2011 at 13:08

    So sorry, man. Grace & peace to you. You & Chris will be in my prayers. You prayed for me when I was going through my own time of lostness. It’s a privilege to return the favor.

  38. Randy, I echo everyone else’s words of support and of offering prayers for you and your family through this season.

    I believe we serve a God who restores and makes something beautiful out of the fragmented and broken pieces of our life. I believe He has a great work to do in and through you and while this season is marked with challenges, it’s all a part of the beautiful God’s masterpiece God has and will continue to create in your life.

    Much love friend.

  39. Randy,

    Even though I’ve never met you personally, I was truly sad when I read your post this morning. I’ve seen my parents go through what you’re going through after 22 years of marriage, and I know for a fact that it’s not easy on anyone involved.

    “When life gets broken, when you’re in despair
    He’ll carry your burden when it’s too much to bear
    It’s down in the valley where He’ll give you strength
    There is nothing you have lost that He can’t replace
    He’ll help you start all over again
    When life gets broken”

    Praying for you.

  40. Randy,
    wow, the love outpouring is awesome to see and feel in this – awesome. I pray you feel God surrounding you and your family in ways beyond what you all could have imagined.

    Thank you for keeping your heart open enough to share the real you in life. This letter…wow. it had to be scary to write…feels like you set your glass house out there to the world, setting yourself up to be shattered…..but instead, I’ve seen God reveal a whole new side of His love, a whole new side of life.

    Because you are in Austin, I am a life that was changed, learning a whole new meaning to what God’s love really means in my world. When you don’t know what to do…default to love.
    And now I know why. =)

    Thank you,


  41. Osann Heisner October 6, 2011 at 14:40

    This post absolutely breaks my heart and I hardly know what to say :(
    Please know that you are forgiven and that You, Chris, your family and closest friends are in my prayers.
    Blessings and Love,

    • Thanks, Osann. What you have said here is absolutely perfect. Thanks for your forgiveness. So many Christians have no concept of how to extend forgiveness verbally. There could be no more powerful words. We are all priests, I think I remember reading somewhere. thanks.

  42. I am thankful that you shared your struggle with us. I will pray.
    You said “…known far and wide for their ministry to broken people—and they insist that means me as well. To be honest, I sometimes have a difficult time believing this.”

    This really hits where I am. We all are capable of making choices that devastate people, including ourselves. And it’s hard to see grace for ourselves when we feel like (or are) the cause.
    I know that I can still believe God works in broken people even though right now I may not see it. I hope that you will find that as well.


    • Thanks so much, Gina. My therapist asked me if I thought my book was a memoir. That comment stunned me. And made me think. And question. He also asked if I had grasped the weight of the book and the ideals within. I told him absolutely not. Have any of us?

  43. Randy,
    Thanks for your honesty and humility.
    I wish there were a few magical words I could type in this comment that would soothe your pain and strengthen your heart.
    Since there aren’t, I will simply tell you I am about to pray for you and your family.


  44. you and the family are loved and prayed for.

  45. Randy–why are you quickly removing all comments that are anything but “we feel bad for you” or “we are praying for you”? You wrote an “Public & Open Letter” and so why are you not allowing open comments to be shared? Perhaps you shouldn’t have written an open letter if you can’t accept all comments.

    It is apparent that you’ve caused great devastation and destruction to those whom you once loved the most–your ex-wife and children. You seem to blame your transgressions on living your life in a “glass house”. And you state that you still live in a glass house, which you ironically refer to as Twitter.

    I leave you with one simple question–when are you going to leave the glass house that you’re now in and work on repairing the relationships that you’ve destroyed? You can move out of the Twitter glass house by simply turning it off. There is still such a thing known as privacy, you just need to let go of your ego which means letting go of your followers.

    • You know, “anonymous,” you may be right. Only one comment has been removed. It was inappropriate and vicious and should have been made personally to me.

  46. Randy, as one who has wounded many around me, I can say with all candor that God loves you with an everlasting love, and will never leave you OR forsake you. I’m sure you have known this verse; now you need to draw close to the one who wrote it. He WILL make it real to you. You are in my prayers, and as we live in Austin I do hope to run into you one day. Healing will come to ALL who seek it from the only one who can give it, Jesus Christ.
    God knew this was going to happen; I’m glad you are surrounded by Godly people who will help you.

  47. Randy, no words come to mind but like restoring a painting, God restores lives!

    GRACE & LOVE…unbeatable combination! !

    • I love this analogy. I have thought about it a lot. Sort of like Daniel Silva’s character Gabriel Allon. I desperately need restoration. I suppose I’m the painting, God is Gabriel.

  48. Randy
    I did notice a slowdown in the tweets and that you were spending Alot of time in Austin. I just assumed it was preparations for recreate. I am saddened by this turn of events but know through Christ blood there is healing for all. Keep your head up brother.

  49. Randy I am praying for you, your family and all those closest to you. In the pain and brokenness may all of you feel His love surrounding you. Lately Romans 8:28 has helped remind me that even in our brokenness and sin He loves, He restores, and for those of us who love Him…He works all things out for our good. Even if we cannot see past the moment and this hurt.

  50. Thanks so much, Christy. The restoration theme speaks to me in a profound way.

  51. Randy, I’m praying for you and your family. May this be a time of respite and renewed strength for you. I don’t know the details, I’ve never met you but I am praying for you during this difficult situation and applaud you for your honesty.

  52. Michael H Smith October 6, 2011 at 20:24

    Praying for your Spiritual and Emotional healing and continued health.

  53. Thank you for you humble honesty… you are still loved here because God is love. If you ever have a free moment as you pass through Dallas, I would love to connect with you. So thankful that you have found a church that shows Christ. Yes, you will be in my prayers!
    Take care!

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