This is unfortunately a sad reality that anyone who has kids should think about, and every church needs to work thorough. How are we as a community going to treat a convicted sex offender. I think like many things we don’t think that we will have to deal with something until we end up having to deal with it. If you are a children’s pastor or kids worker I challenge you to bring this topic to the table so that you are prepared when a situation arises.
Here is how we arrived at ours.
1. Balancing the conflicting values of spiritual growth for the offender and safety and security for our kids and families. – This is a difficult tension because we want to see every person grow in their faith. However the scales of balance must always tip towards the safety of our kiddos. Helping those who have received a guilty conviction wether innocent or not is no easy task and is something we are still wrestling with.
2. Coming up with a accountability relationship that protects our kids and helps offenders grow.
3. Be proactive. In keeping kids safe you can NEVER close your eyes and hope for the best.
4. Be flexible – each situation is unique and so I don’t think you can ever have “a policy” but you must have “guidelines”.
5. Discuss as a team – meet with the parties in question as a united front, never alone.
Our guidelines so far.
1. We need to get all the details from his parol officer
2. Someone would have to shadow him at all times
3. He is NEVER to speak to a child for any reason
4. We would furnish his name and picture to all ushers and kids workers
5. Anytime he uses the bathroom there should be a chaperone nearby.
6. They must be honest and ready to explain whatever to church leadership as questions or issues arise.
(we are in the midst of finalizing our sex offender covenant, we will use the above guidelines and portions of those below.)
I hope this helps foster communication and that you and your church leadership team make your own guidelines. I have listed some guidelines that other churches use. I hope they will help you on your journey to creating safe environments for kids, families and even sex offenders to experience the grace, and power of Jesus Christ.
Another Church uses these guidelines.
a. The offender must be up front about everything. Learning from the offender versus it finding them out… way different situation. The offenders willingness to be transparent is a glimpse into their willingness to comply with any stipulations you place on their participation in church
b. The Campus Pastor has a personal conversation with the offender (looking for a ‘gut check’) then one with the parole officer, if he feels it’s necessary.
c. If the situation warrants, the offender must agree to the following:
i. The offender will only attend a specified worship experience (determined by the pastor and head of security)
ii. The offender will only use specified entrances and exits
iii. The offender will check in with the head of security when they arrive to church and sit in the same spot in the auditorium
iv. Additional participation in other events (i.e. community mission events, etc) are agreed upon on a case-by-base basis. Sometimes the situation warrants the offender losing the privilege of serving in any capacity.
Dealing with sex offenders
Here is another sex offender guideline I found on the internet there was no credit or copy-write that I could find.
3 comments On Keeping Kids Safe: What to do with Sex Offenders.
GREAT, GREAT Post Sam! It’s heart wrenching when dealing with a sex offender who has given their life to Christ BUT as leaders we find out from some other sources than the offender of his/her offense! Your post has some of the best practical and strategic points in dealing with the tension in these types of situations. Your post was just another confirmation of the guidelines I had put in place in my prior church as children’s pastor. Thank you for all that you ARE and DO for Children’s Ministry!
Great post! 🙂
We actually have dealt with 3 registered sex offenders in the past two years at our church. Two still attend the church. We’ve had conversations with them and set the necessary boundaries. Many are similar to what you mentioned above. There are several precautions but the most practical is our no carpet rule. Basically our lobby and worship center have tile flooring but it transitions to carpet in the children’s wing and that sets a pretty clear standard.To date these guys have respected the boundaries one is even serving in ministry (in an area that has no contact with kids).
There was one offender who refused to respect the boundaries we set. After several conversations and evidence that he was trying to talk with specific children we decided we could not allow him to be on our campus. We informed him of our decision and had to file what basically amounts to a restraining order to enforce our decision. This was a hard step to take but like Sam said we had to put the kids first.
I think it’s important to underscore that you have to treat each person individually. Each person we dealt with had very different circumstances and required a different plan of action. What’s important is that you get all the information and deal with issues or concerns quickly.
Thanks for the post!
That’s a lot of red on that map. I found it interesting that the only open space without sex offenders was in Nevada. Yeah, most of it is desert, but non in Vegas? Really? According to this map, if you want to really keep it safe, just start your church in Canada or Mexico… they must not have any. 😉