Monday, May 19, 2014

Protecting our little ones

Over at Ref21 I have posted on the ugly reality of child sexual abuse within the church.
It is a wickedness of massive proportions when children are sexually abused. However, when a child is used for the sexual gratification of a spiritual leader within the church the evil passes into the realm of the indescribable. Sadly this particular manifestation of evil has lurked within the walls of the church for generations. It has only been in recent years, however, that the extent of child sexual abuse within the church is beginning to be revealed. What is more, it is becoming clear that Protestants have nothing to brag about. We cannot shake our finger at the Roman Catholic Church as though priests are more susceptible to this sin than are pastors and ministry directors. Child sexual abuse honors no sectarian boundaries.

At the risk of stating the obvious, churches must take pains to protect the children under their care. We are well beyond the days of politely giving so-and-so the benefit of the doubt because he's been working with children for years. Criminal background checks ought to be mandatory for all persons serving in any capacity with children or youth. In the church I serve as Lead Pastor anyone interested in serving among children must submit to a background check. Unwilling? Tough.

Background checks however are not enough. There must be stringent rules restricting adults from being alone with a child for any length of time. "But we know so-and-so." Not as well as you think. There should be cameras in every hallway and, more importantly in every classroom with the data being stored on computer.

Many churches have welcomed into membership those who have offended in the past but have repented and paid their legal debt. Certainly, the church of Jesus Christ has a message of forgiveness and hope for any sinner who repents. However, let us not be so naive and sentimental that we think it is a badge of graciousness to place a repentant offender into a position of ministry with our young ones. They must never be allowed to work with children or youth in any capacity. If you insist on this standard (and you most certainly should) then you will be accused of "not getting the gospel." That's fine. Just keep reminding yourself that someone has to be the grown-up.

Read the rest HERE.

This week's edition of Mortification of Spin (airing Wednesday) will feature a helpful interview we conducted with Dr. Diane Langberg on what churches should do to protect their children from sexual abuse. You will want to listen in on this one.

3 comments:

Teri Jacobsen said...

"In the church I serve as Lead Pastor all candidates for membership must submit to a background check."

Point of clarification, please:
1. Is background check a mandatory requirement for church membership; or
2. A requirement only for those working in children/youth ministries?

Thanks!

Todd Pruitt said...

For those working in children/youth ministries. In the Welcome to Covenant Class, new members are encouraged to go ahead and fill out the form so that they can be available to serve in those ministries.

Todd Pruitt said...

I just noticed there is a difference in the language of the post and the article I posted on Ref21. I'm going to clarify it.