1. As a church we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children are very vulnerable.
2. Statistically, people who commit sexual crimes are rarely truly rehabilitated.
3. People who commit sexual crimes are very good at making you think that they are rehabilitated when they really aren’t.
I have been professionally counseling men for 30+ years. Many of them for their sexual behavior and many of them appeared to be sincerely Christian men. Yet there have been some that have convinced me that they were totally innocent, that the charges were trumped up and that they were unjustly charged. However, upon further investigation, I found out that they were lying thru their teeth.
My experience has taught me a few things about safeguards. Let me share them with you:
First of all, most churches do this but I have run across some that don't: Every person who works in the church nursery, teaches children's Sunday School/Vacation Bible School, and/or is a Church Camp counselor, needs to sign an agreement to have his* background checked by the local authorities and the FBI. In fact, anyone who has repeated contact with children in any capacity in regard to a church function needs to have a background check. If you have someone who is working with children and didn't divulge his background, then that person needs to be confronted and the pastor needs to understand why the person felt a need to hide such information. This could very well be a legal as well as a moral and a spiritual issue.
Yet, a person who is truly desirous to fellowship in a church where there are children present,will talk to the pastor about his past before attending church. It would be advisable for the pastor to let the person know that the board will be informed of his past and that safeguards will be in place. Here are some recommended safeguards:
1. The person will sit up front, to the side, in the congregation. That way the only people he can see are the people on the stage. Also, it keeps him in full visibility of the congregation and pastor.
2. Several men will be appointed to keep an eye on the person. If he gets up to leave for any reason, he will be accompanied by at least one other man.
3. He will never enter the bathroom alone. In fact, it is advisable that the church appoint individuals to make rounds in the church bathrooms and other private/secluded areas of the church before, during and after the service from the time the church is unlocked until it is locked again.
4. He does not need to attend services when children will be up front on the stage for extended periods of time. If he is there, he needs to excuse himself until the children are not up front, or he should just go home.
5. He needs to be active in the Men's Ministry of the church and be accountable to that group of men.
6. He needs to meet with the pastor regularly for counsel, feedback and accountability.
7. He should never be allowed to work with children, in any capacity.
8. He should not be Facebook friends, or any other social media including texting with any minors in the church.
So, it is possible to allow a person with a criminal history of sexually abusing children to worship and fellowship in the church but he must be transparent and be willing to follow the recommended safeguards. If he cannot, then the church can go to where he is and fellowship with him at his home or a neutral location.
Or the obvious..... If you really want to minister to these individuals, consider a service that is for adults only... No minors allowed... Spaced far enough from the other service so that there is time to come and go without interacting with minors.
We don't need to write off these men, they need to grow spiritually as well. And you know, it will decrease child molestation in the long run too...
*The word "his" will be used throughout. The majority of those who sexually offend are males but that does not mean that the church should give an automatic pass to women. Women need to have background checks as well.
BE A MAN.