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.