It does not matter how well you think you know someone in the church. It matters not how long so-and-so has been serving (Remember what we have already said about successful predators). You must insist that everyone working with children and youth in your church comply at all points with the policy. That includes submitting to a background check. If Aunt Millie who everyone has known for 40 years refuses to comply then she should not be allowed to work with children. Simply put, anyone worthy of working with other people’s children will understand the current climate and willingly submit to the stipulations of a wise policy.
Once again many of us are talking about the dread evil of child abuse. As recent history proves, churches are vulnerable to predators and must, therefore, take serious measures to protect their children. This means churches must heighten their awareness of the problem, sharpen their policies, and strengthen their resolve to take action.
This is the first post of several which will offer a list of actions and attitudes that will go a long way in protecting a church from child predators. Among the issues I will address is what a church is to do with a convicted offender who professes faith in Christ and desires to attend services.
We will never be rid of predators so long as we are south of Heaven. Unfortunately churches are typically soft targets. Many predators are skillful at hiding in plain sight. They are successful at what they do precisely because they are good at disguising their wicked actions. So no church should ever assume that it has somehow shielded itself from all risk. But there are many common sense actions churches can take to reduce the risk of child abuse.
1. Churches must possess a formally approved child protection policy that is consistently applied.
If your church does not have a formal child protection policy in writing then stop what you are doing and begin the work of securing one. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are denominations and churches aplenty which have done the hard work of composing comprehensive child protection policies (CPP). You may contact the church I serve (Covenant Presbyterian Church) and request a copy of our CPP.
Of course, a CPP is only as good as the willingness of the church’s leadership to enforce it. Simply having a good policy will not, as though by magic, provide a protective shield against abuse. So, a strong measure of resolve must be employed. And this is not easy. If enforcing a child protection policy consistently is new for your church then you can expect some pushback. Some who have been serving in youth or children’s ministry for years may well resent what to them will seem like restrictive boundaries or a lack of trust.