October 28, 2010
How One Church Responded to a Sex Offender
An open-door policy still comes with its costs.
Last month, we highlighted Sex Offenders in the Pews, Marian Liautaud's article in Christianity Today that is based largely on research we conducted earlier this year. This week, Leadership Journal, another one of our sister publications, published "Sex Offenders: Coming to a Church Near You," Marian's article about this topic from the view of church pastors and staff members.
Of particular note: A small church in the Northeast worked hard to integrate a convicted sex offender after his release from prison. After numerous meetings with families, the pastor decided integration could work--and could reinforce the church's redemptive mission. It's a theme that emerged from our research (nearly 8 in 10 church leaders say they're open to a sex offender's attendance, with proper supervision and appropriate limitations in place).
But in the case of this church in the Northeast, such an approach still comes with its costs:
"At a small church like ours, comfort zones got pressed beyond normal ranges because people were forced to interact with the sex offender, whether they wanted to or not," the pastor says. One by one, Bryant noticed families going out the back door.
How is your church addressing this question?
To learn more, check out:
- The 2010 Sex Offenders in the Church Survey (a free executive report);
- Richard Hammar's "Sex Offenders in the Church" Feature Report;
- "Sex Offenders in the Church," a training resource for church leaders;
- "Juvenile Offenders in the Church," a training resource for church leaders;
- Reducing the Risk, 3rd Edition, Richard Hammar's training resource for church leaders to prevent sexual abuse.