All posts from “September 2009”

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September 30, 2009

Should Your Church Hire a Sex Offender?

A small Kentucky church recently did. What are the implications?

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A church in Louisville, Kentucky, generated local and national media attention earlier this month, not because it allowed a convicted sex offender to attend its services, but because the church pastor decided to hire and ordain one.

WHAS-TV, a local television station, as well as CNN and newspaper wire services, covered the story when it first emerged. On Wednesday, the story picked up new steam when the Associated Press wrote its second piece about the situation (it was picked up here by MSNBC.com). During the past week, I’ve left three voice mails for Pastor Randy Meadows on the church’s main phone line, hoping to learn more about his decision, and the circumstances surrounding it. My calls haven’t been returned.

We know the following facts:

• The City of Refuge Worship Center, a small, independent congregation based in downtown Louisville, ordained Mark Hourigan on September 13. The church’s website shows he is the music minister and leader of the church’s “Pride Committee.”

• Hourigan, 41, is listed on the Kentucky State Police’s Sex Offender Registry. The site lists Hourigan’s offense as “Sexual Abuse 1st Degree,” and also notes he faced two counts. His victim was an 11-year-old boy, according to the site.

• Media reports indicate the abuse took place in 1993 and 1994. The AP’s first story, quoting an interview between Hourigan and CNN, said Hourigan told the cable network he completed a sex offender treatment program and was upfront with Meadows regarding his criminal past.

• According to the AP, “ ‘I don’t take anything lightly when it comes to someone’s past,’ Meadows told CNN. But he added, ‘God gives everyone a second and a third and fourth chance.’ ” Meadows also told the network that Hourigan will sign an agreement not to minister to children.

• The ordination drew protests from at least one abuse victims group, and the departure of at least one church deacon, who disagreed with the decision, according to media reports.

Undoubtedly, a church faces numerous challenges when a sex offender begins to attend. In ChurchSafety.com’s “Dealing with Dangerous People,” an electronic training resource, the tension that arises with a sex offender’s attendance at a church is best summed up in this way:

Continue reading Should Your Church Hire a Sex Offender?...

September 29, 2009

Is This Gossip?

9 questions to help you decide.

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Vulnerability, our theme this week, is the degree of openness between oneself and others. Finding the right degree is a balancing act. A related challenge in ministry is confidentiality—that is, how open can you be about someone else? These nine questions can help you decide whether what you know should be shared.

1. Am I telling this to someone who can do something about the problem by helping the person or offering discipline or correction?

Continue reading at Off the Agenda for the other eight questions that can help you decide whether what you know should be shared.

September 22, 2009

Raising the Bar in Tough Times

How church administrators can prove—and increase—the worth of their roles.

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In this uncertain economy, with so many churches scrambling to reduce expenses, the role of the church administrator inevitably will come under the bright light of scrutiny. Because of this uncertainty, church administrators need to spend time reflecting on ways to showcase—and increase—our value to the churches we serve.

Nearly half of the 1,168 churches surveyed by Your Church magazine earlier this year indicated giving at their churches was on the decline (click here for the full report). Personnel costs usually consume between 45 percent and 60 percent of a church’s budget, so that makes it fertile ground for reducing expenses. And as a senior pastor or key decision-maker looks across the staff, the cost of the church administrator might appear more tempting a fruit to pluck off the vine than other staff positions because the perception is that the administrator does not have the direct impact on ministry that other church positions offer.

The administrator usually doesn’t preach, doesn’t counsel, doesn’t meet with new families, doesn’t lead programs, or possess nearly as public of a face as other staff members. It could be suggested, albeit incorrectly in my opinion, that a church could release a church administrator and not see a direct impact to the ongoing ministries of the church. That kind of reasoning is wholly short-sighted, but perhaps understandable in tough economic times like these.

That’s why we must demonstrate our value and find ways to further expand that value, not just to lessen the likelihood we’ll lose our jobs, but also for the far more noble desire to increase our impact in Christ’s Kingdom. We want to become more valuable because we can and, because in so doing, we’ll gain the fulfillment that comes from knowing we have made a difference in our world through the Gospel.

The role of church administrator is one of efficiency and productivity. It allows the church organization to function smoothly and effectively. It involves processes and systems that indirectly, yet significantly, impact the people we serve in our churches. The church administrator often works behind the scenes to ensure resources are wisely and efficiently used. The church administrator also creates and implements policies and systems that promote harmony, decrease ambiguity and confusion, and allow for greater productivity and impact toward the church’s mission.

Here’s how to showcase these very important qualities and raise the bar even higher:

Continue reading Raising the Bar in Tough Times...

September 9, 2009

How to Handle Disruptive People

When you need to ask someone to leave your church.

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Does a church have a legal right to keep people from accessing its property or attending services? For example, let's say that a church has an encounter with a disruptive person, and asks him not to return. What if he shows up again the next week? How should ushers respond?

This issue has been addressed by a number of courts. Generally, the courts have been sympathetic to attempts by churches to deny access to disruptive individuals. To illustrate, one court ruled that a church could bar a disruptive individual from entering its premises. It noted that the person had been clearly informed and understood that his privilege to attend the church had been revoked. The court rejected the person's claim that a church is a public place that cannot deny access to anyone. To the contrary, a church, like any property owner, has the right to determine who can access its premises.

Continue reading How to Handle Disruptive People...

September 3, 2009

Responding to Drop-In Visitors

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Most church office staff interact with a large number of drop-in visitors. These are often congregational members who come to the church for a specific reason, but then end up in the church office. These conversations can be helpful in building relationships, but sometimes they can prevent the staff from getting work done. This case study examines that concern. Read the following case study and respond in the "comments" section on this blog.

Stacy is working on a mailing for the Sunday School staff. During the last 35 minutes, at least 3 congregational members have dropped in the office, and one elderly member of the congregation phoned. In each case, the members chatted for a few minutes about this and that, nothing really important. The elderly person calls on a regular basis, and just likes to visit.

Stacy wants to be sensitive to congregational members, but is unsure how to minimize visits when she has other work that needs to be done. What would you suggest?

September 3, 2009

Using Routines to Organize Your Work

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Every so often, we should examine the relationship between how we organize our work and how effective we are at getting our work done in an efficient and effective manner. Clearly, many ways exist to organize work, but they are not all equal. Some ways may actually add to our stress and make our work more difficult. Read the following case study and respond in the comments section on this blog.

Stacy arrives at the church office each morning around 8:30 A.M. She usually follows a routine of turning on the copy machine, making some coffee, checking her e-mail and reviewing her to-do list for the day. Often, though, she feels disorganized. It's not long before people are starting to drop by, the phone is ringing, and she finds herself continuously getting up and down
to get this or that.

What can Stacy do to better organize her time, her work, and herself? What routines do you follow that help you get your work done better? Do you have a morning routine, an afternoon routine, a daily, weekly, or monthly routine?