What Would You Do? (Sensitive/Not family-friendly)

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Batt4Christ, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. Batt4Christ

    Batt4Christ
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    I have hesitated to post this here. I have been praying and even fasting, looking for the "answers" in how to handle this - and in the meantime, the situation has grown worse. I will spare the nitty-gritty details and just lay the framework out here:

    A family joins a local church. The family has plugged in and is active. The wife, who is several years younger than the husband, and still pretty immature spiritually has been growing. They have three small children (all boys).

    We (the church) has known all along that the husband spent time in prison (was released about 6 years ago). This man has shared many of his prison experiences as parts of his testimony. His background was in law enforcement, as well as had pastored prior to his conviction.

    Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when a phone call to the pastor of this church - the call being from this man's daughter (adult) who was the victim of his crime - he had molested her over the course of 2 years, culminating in his rape conviction and sentencing 20 years ago. She has obvious issues with pain (though she is engaged in ministry in another state). She said that her reason for calling this pastor was to let him and his congregation know the danger posed.

    This pastor calls his deacons together to discuss the issue. They want to refer it back to the previous church who granted the letter for this family. It just so happens that the pastor of that previous church is the brother of this man in question. That pastor's view is that what this man did in the past, he paid for by serving his time, getting counseling and participating in a program specifically for his crime. In the 6 years the man in question has been out of prison, he has been a contributing member of society, has kept his nose clean, and has given absolutely zero reason for concern. He has not been around children at the church, other than his own. He has intentionally kept himself out of any questionable circumstances.

    This man then visits with the deacons and admits his crime (thought he still holds his ex-wife at least partially to blame...), explains that he has repented, that he has sought and received the forgiveness of the church he was a member of at the time of the crime (and who granted him a letter to his recent former church). That he has been doing all he can to start over, to provide a stable and Godly foundation for his wife and children.

    The decons' response - they essentially want this man's former pastor and brother to talk him into quietly leave the current church (which of course his brother found offensive).

    His current pastor is torn between fulfilling his unquestionable responsibility to minister to this family, and the now heavy burden of this man's past crime and the certain fallout as word spreads through the congregation.

    This church is a small church, and pretty fragile, but seeing positive signs. The deacons are worried that the presence of a pedophile/sex offender will scare off young couples visiting and looking for a church. The pastor is concerned that failure to minister to this couple, along with quite unscriptural attempts to "put off" this man and his family, though he has done no crime in or to the church (outside the possible "crime" of failure to disclose his past crime) will bring condemnation from God.

    The church has policies in place from prior to the current pastor's beginning service, that include background checks for children's workers/volunteers, as well as policies that preclude an adult from being completely alone with any child other than their own - but the policies have not been fully implemented (and this being an object lesson in why they SHOULD be in place!).

    My own leaning is that this man should speak to the assembled church (minus children), admitting his crime, but also explaining his rational for not being open with this from the beginning, and what He has done to get beyond this (counseling/etc.).

    There are legitimate concerns that this could destroy this small congregation. The question begs - what would Jesus do?
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    Jesus would offer grace.
     
  3. preacher4truth

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    It's a great time for your men and church to step up, and love the family, being firm, with candor and honesty, telling him how Jesus forgave each of you for sins.

    The only issue that concerns me with him in this is the still partially blaming his wife part...I don't see him with said statement taking total responsibility for his actions...he may in time. The reactions and repercussions are unknown and that is a tough spot to be in.

    - Peace
     
  4. Scarlett O.

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    My goodness, this is not easy. And it's not so isolated a case. There are a myriad churches where child molestors both known and unknown sit on the pews every Sunday.

    • If congregation isn't told and they find out about it through outside gossip and find out that the pastor and deacons knew about it, they may react pain and anger.
    • If the man is "required" to come forward before the church and confess his past before the adults, some will automatically want him to leave and some will leave themselves.
    • Molestors, both men and women, who defile their own children aren't always a danger to other children. (Sometimes they are)
    • But a man who rapes his daughter and partially blames his ex-wife for it is a man who has not fully come to terms with the gravity of what he has done and who is not fully repentant.
    • My church does background checks on everyone involved with children, but that's not enough in my opinion. No worker should be left alone with children without a partner worker - for the protection of the child and the worker.
    Child molestors have been members of churches ever since there have been churches. It's just that now - with everyone knowing everyone's business via technology - it just seems like a new thing.

    It's going to be a lose-lose situation initially but you could turn that around. Some people will leave the church or cause a division regardless of how they find out. Some will ask for the man to leave regardless of how they find out.

    You asked what would Christ do. He reaches out to all sinners - no matter the vulgarness of it. He also charges pastors and leaders of the church to be shepherds of the flocks - and shepherds are protectors.

    Just comes to grips with the fact that there may be a small rebellion when people find out. I don't think that he and his family should be asked to leave, but I do believe that he should be in direct line of vision of the pastor and/or any deacon at all times and that he should be make aware of that monitoring. And he should never be in a place of leadership nor should he be working with or around children. What he needs right now is grace and a group of men who will both support him and hold him accountable.

    And he needs counseling. If he blames his ex-wife for his two-year sexual abuse of his daughter and her rape, then he isn't facing the truth.
     
    #4 Scarlett O., Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  5. abcgrad94

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    Scarlett has given some wise counsel. In addition to what she said, I see some huge red flags here that indicate to me that this man should NOT be allowed to be active in your church. I will explain:

    1. The man was not up front with your church about WHY he was in prison. If he truly wanted to "start over" and be completely clean, he should have been completely honest and specifically asked the men in leadership to help keep him accountable from the very beginning.

    2. Your post indicates that your church is "small." Typically, smaller churches do not have the experience and/or resources to help sex addicts AND THEY KNOW THIS. If he really wanted help, he would have sought out a bigger church with the means to help him stay accountable.

    3. This is the real biggie, IMO. This man's victim is still very concerned about his behavior. Remember, she grew up in his home and witnessed exactly what kind of a person he was while the rest of the world looked up to him as a preacher and LEO. He deceived others at her expense. You said she is now in ministry. I FIRMLY BELIEVE that there is much more this man is concealing. If his dd is now in ministry and serving God, she would have peace about his behavior if he were indeed truly sorry. I speak from similar experience. She NEVER would have laid her wounds open to your pastor/church at such emotional risk to herself unless she is certain this man is still unrepentant/at risk of repeating the crime.

    4. Him still blaming the ex-wife is the final nail in the coffin. As long as he's willing to blame someone else or make excuses, he's not truly repentant. Having his brother vouch for his character makes me wonder if there is no other men willing to do such! That's another red flag.

    If this were happening in our church, my dh as the pastor would ask the person to find a bigger church with more security measures in place and more experience in helping men like him. My dh would take EVERY precaution to make sure the man is never alone with any women or children, and he would not be allowed to serve in ANY kind of leadership role of the church.

    Edited to add--the other men of your church deserve to know about this in an up-front meeting before there's time for more gossip to spread.
     
    #5 abcgrad94, Feb 7, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2012
  6. matt wade

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    I'm really surprised by the responses here. The man had no obligation to disclose his past sins to the church. Do you people require all prospective members to disclose all their past sins, or are you just worried about this one sin in particular?

    It seems the man as conducted himself in an upright manner and hasn't placed himself in any situation where there could be trouble.

    Love the man, love his family, and treat him like any other member.

    (wow, imagine that...an IFBer understands that we should love and accept people better than non-IFBers)
     
  7. Scarlett O.

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    Matt, for me, it really is about this one sin in particular. I don't think that he has to stand before the congregation and do this .... I'm not a big believer in that, but somehow the leadership of the church needs to address it.

    If I had a daughter the age of his daughter when he molested and raped her and this man and his new family joined our church, I would want to know. I truly would not leave nor would I want this man and his family to leave, but I would want to discreetly make sure that my daughter was never around him. For her sake primarily, but alway for his.

    Is that judgmental? Perhaps. But it's just how it is.




     
  8. mont974x4

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    A sin committed 20 years ago that has been paid for twice most surely should be addressed by grace. It was paid for by the man who went to prison. It was paid for by Christ once and for all.

    As the pastor I would sit down with the family and discuss the issue. Help them work through any remaining issues and encourage the ongoing fruit in keeping with repentance.


    Moses was a murderer. Abraham was a liar. Jacob was a scoundrel. Paul was a murderer. Peter denied Christ. Jonah rejected God's call and ran. I was a drunk fornicator.

    This reminds me of a joke...It really isn't funny, but only because its true....

    Pastoral Search Report

    We do not have a happy report to give. We’ve not been able to find a suitable candidate for this church, though we have one promising prospect still. We do appreciate all the suggestions from the church members, and we’ve followed up each one with interviews or calling at least three references. The following is our confidential report on the present candidates.

    Adam: Good man but problems with his wife. Also one reference told of how his wife and he enjoy walking nude in the woods.
    Noah: Former pastorate of 120 years with no converts. Prone to unrealistic building projects.

    Abraham: Though the references reported wife-swapping, the facts seem to show he never slept with another man’s wife, but did offer to share his own wife with another man.
    Joseph: A big thinker, but a braggart, believes in dream-interpreting, and has a prison record.
    Moses: A modest and meek man, but poor communicator, even stuttering at times. Sometimes blows his stack and acts rashly. Some say he left an earlier church over a murder charge.
    David: The most promising leader of all until we discovered the affair he had with his neighbor’s wife.

    Solomon: Great preacher but our parsonage would never hold all those wives.
    Elijah: Prone to depression-collapses under pressure.
    Elisha: Reported to have lived with a single widow while at his former church.
    Hosea: A tender and loving pastor but our people could never handle his wife’s occupation.

    Deborah: Female.
    Jeremiah: Emotionally unstable, alarmist, negative, always lamenting things, and reported to have taken a long trip to bury his underwear on the bank of foreign river.
    Isaiah: On the fringe? Claims to have seen angels in church. Has trouble with his language.
    Jonah: Refused God’s call into ministry until he was forced to obey by getting swallowed up by a great fish. He told us the fish later spit him out on the shore near here. We hung up.

    Amos: Too backward and unpolished. With some seminary training he might have promise, but has a hang-up against wealthy people. Might fit in better in a poor congregation.
    John: Says he is a Baptist, but definitely doesn’t dress like one. Has slept in the outdoors for months on end, has a weird diet, and provokes denominational leaders.
    Peter: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper—even has been known to curse. Had a big run-in with Paul in Antioch. Aggressive, but a loose cannon.

    Paul: Powerful CEO type leader and fascinating preacher. However, short on tact, unforgiving with younger ministers, harsh and has been known to preach all night.
    Timothy: Too young.
    Jesus: Has had popular times, but once when his church grew to 5000 he managed to offend them all and this church dwindled down to twelve people. Seldom stays in one place very long. And, of course, he’s single.
    Judas: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good connections. Knows how to handle money. We’re inviting him to preach this Sunday. Possibilities here.
     
  9. matt wade

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    As long as a church is following proper procedures there's no reason that you need to know the past sin of any member.

    It is as simple as the church body making sure that no person is alone at any time with a member of the opposite sex or a child. There should always be accountability in every situation. If a church follows this method they stop the predator that has been caught in the past as well as the predator that has never been caught.
     
  10. annsni

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    See, I think it would have been best for the man to have gone to the pastor right up front, met with him personally and privately and explained it all. "Pastor, this is my past. I have repented, admitted my wrong doing, paid my time and by God's grace, am a new man. I am doing _____ for accountability and I do not expect the church to just leave me alone as if nothing happened. I wanted you to be aware of my past so that you could not be accused of anything untoward and that if you felt comfortable with it, you could help me keep accountable by pairing me with a few men when I am at the church in any capacity. I'd appreciate discretion with who knows about this but I do understand that most likely your elders/deacons/leaders would need to be made aware and I am going to yield to your discretion on this matter. I'd also appreciate your prayers that I would continue to fight this past and be victorious over it. If you are not comfortable with this, I understand and I am willing to leave your church and find another church that would be able to deal with this better." That would be a man who is holding himself accountable to God regarding his past sin and not brushing it away.
     
  11. mont974x4

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    This is not only the safest way it also avoids unnecessary embarrassment by singling someone out.
     
  12. matt wade

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    Would you expect a man that has had multiple affairs in the past to do the same thing?

    Would you expect a man that was a thief to do the same thing?
     
  13. Scarlett O.

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    Moses was coming to the aid of someone. Abraham believed he was protecting himself and his wife. Jacob was protecting his interests. Paul truly believe he was acted on God's behalf. Peter, under duress, was motivated by self-preservation. Jonah was self-centered.

    None of these people raped their own children.

    The man deserves mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

    And the members of his church deserve the decency of knowing that he is a sex offender and can make their own decisions of how close they will allow their familes to get to him.
     
  14. Scarlett O.

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    This far transcends a mere embarrassment of someone.
     
  15. annsni

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    If it would affect the members of the church, yes.

    We're speaking children here. I'm sorry but the millstone issue comes up here. The man in the OP served 20 years. This is more than multiple affairs or a simple thief. He raped children. Yes, I stand by what I said. He needs to speak to the pastor if he's a man that will be involved in a church. If he's a man who is saved, he will speak to the pastor. If he is a man...
     
  16. mont974x4

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    The excuses don't matter, the sin does. So does the grace of God in dealing with each of these people, and each of us for that matter.
     
  17. mont974x4

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    It's about proper accountability. It's also about the pastor being a shepherd to each member of his flock, regardless of their past.


    We either believe that people become new creations in Christ or we don't.
     
  18. exscentric

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    The reality, he has paid for his crime, evidently forgive of his sin. End of story.

    However also reality is the fact that most sex offenders offend again. This is true even among Christians I would guess.

    A man that was in leadership was found to have been molesting his daughter - church, wife and friends forgave him. Number of years passed and he became a pastor - molested someone else's daughter.

    Reality is, most of what has been said in the thread is true - one very hard problem to be sorted out by The Church.

    I have written to a believer that is serving his 24 years for a sexual crime. He has earned two degrees, working on a third and expects to go into Christian counseling when he is released. What sort of reception will he receive?
     
  19. Batt4Christ

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    Grace is an important word here, no doubt. But so is the concealing of facts that DO affect the church body. The deacons feel very strongly that the concealment of facts is an offense that should and could have been avoided by this man being up front.

    There is also very serious concern over his lack of repentance for what he has done. His attitude in the meeting that he asked for with the deacons was one of "this is what I have gone through, this is MY HELL, and so on - with a healthy dose of anger towards his daughter who he believes is just trying to continue to punish him. And yes, he says that what he did was wrong, but clearly still blames his ex wife - clearly spelling how how it was her fault.

    Also keep in mind that the daughter/victim forwarded a complete file of court records, the police transcript of his statement to police (that also squarely puts the blame on his ex wife - and actually says his 11 year-old daughter "offered"). There are official records of investigations into allegations of molestation of at least one foster child he and his wife "cared" for, as well as accusations that he also engaged in inappropriate contact with his two sons. All of the other investigations were dropped when he went to trail on the rape of his daughter.

    But do these "facts" trump Grace? Does his attitude and lack of what appears to be sincere repentance for the horrendous crime (and damage) done to his daughter play into the question?

    I will admit that I have spoken with him and told him that this would not have come to the head it has, had he come forward and admitted what he had done.

    Pedophilia is equated by most in the counseling field to alcohol and drug abuse - you are always a "recovering" addict (molester). This isn't a one-time theft of property, act of violence, or other non-crime. It is the most heinous crime a man can commit - a violation of the most sacred relationship God has established among men - the father/child relationship. That violation actually carries over to the trust of others.

    The pastor in the middle of all this is commissioned to protect the flock. While this man is part of the flock, regardless of how he got to that place, the protection of the flock (church) also has to play heavily into this - and that protection isn't just from the possibility of future re-offense, but also from the damage that the presence of this man will have in the eye of both members, and to protective members. Remember that this church is small (55-65 average Sunday AM attendance), that is in a precarious position as far as growing.

    And I will be totally honest - If I were a young man with a family (particularly with young children) who was looking for a church home, the knowledge of a registered sex offender would send up alarms for me - though if appropriate and effective security measures were in place, it might get a second look. If I were to discover that the sex offender was a pedophile - the protective humanity/father in me would probably send me looking elsewhere, regardless of the security measures. Is this the "Christian" thing to do? Maybe not. But my responsibility as a father to protect my family trumps pretty much everything else.

    The pastor of this church is in a very similar position.
     
  20. Mark_13

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    I think the biggest mistake you made was getting all the deacons together to tell them about it. You're the pastor, the ostensible spiritual leader of the church, the deacons are largely lay leaders. Even if they were ordained it would be harmful to do this. You say your church is small, so what percentage are deacons - maybe 20% of the church population - so you immediately go and tell that many people about this? Now you've got a PR problem of your own making. Now all these deacons are running around trying to figure out what to do - why couldn't you do that on your own?

    So lets review the facts - the guy committed a crime 20 years ago, evidently served a full sentence and has been out of prison for 6 years. Furthermore, by your own admission, he hasn't been hanging around kids since coming to your church. Chronic pedophiles are cultivators - they can't stay away from kids. Not only that he's married since leaving prison with two boys of his own.

    And what do we not know. We don't know if 20 years ago he was a drug or alcohol addict. Drugs can make you do a lot of things. If drugs are no longer in the picture, then neither may be the sex crimes. We also don't know how old the girl was at the time. I would say its relevant to know whether she was 6 or 16. It would be relevant to know if he was ever even attracted to actual children.

    But these are all facts that you as pastor could have and should have determined on your own before going and blabbing it all to the entire deacon body. You could have gone to this man on your own and said "Here is what I have been told by your daughter. Could I find out some more information about this." You could have also informed him that although you knew about it, you would not be divulging this to anyone else. If there were a current problem with him, it would be enough for him to know that you would be keeping an eye on him - why do you need the entire deacon body to do that???

    Christ says if your brother is in sin go and confront him about it on your own, and only start going to other people if he doesn't confess and repent of it. You immediately went to a whole huge group of people for a sin committed 20 years ago!

    You could have also talked further with his daughter, asking her point blank what she wanted you as his pastor to do about it. You could have asked her what she intended to do.

    I have no idea how you can extricate yourself from the problem you yourself created. The fact that you're trying to get advice from people here shows you're in way over your head.
     
    #20 Mark_13, Feb 8, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2012

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