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Serious topic - PLEASE don't derail....

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  • Serious topic - PLEASE don't derail....

    As stated in the Title, PLEASE don't derail this thread or joke about the subject, OK? PLEASE?



    So, a Church calls a new Pastor (hereinafter referred to as "Pastor") and shortly after he arrives (within 3 months) one of the active members (hereinafter referred to as "Member") stops attending. Some of the members notice this, and encourage Pastor to make contact with him, and try to get him back.

    Pastor, however, is reluctant, because, unrelated to his position as Pastor, he has learned that Member is a registered sex offender. Further, Pastor discovers that Member, who has been bringing a Senior Adult Woman with him to Church, is a suspect in some "irregularities" having to do with her debit card and bank account. Pastor does not KNOW that Member has done anything untoward regarding the Senior Adult Woman, but something just doesn't "feel right". It is POSSIBLE, however, that Pastor is just suspicious because of the sex offender status. (In Texas, as is probably true in most states, sex offender status is public information, and easily discoverable on the internet.)

    Meanwhile, members are curious as to why Pastor doesn't contact Member, and encourage him to come back. One of the older wiser deacons stops by Pastor's office one day, and very politely but seriously wants to know what's going on -- and Pastor decides to seek his counsel. Deacon listens, and understands Pastor's reluctance, but isn't sure what to do. It is agree they will both pray about it, and get back together later.

    Time passes, and the issue dies down, but eventually, the Senior Adult Woman misses Church, and Deacon volunteers to bring her to Church. She express her concern that Member feels abandoned, that nobody is contacting him, or cares about him. She even asks Pastor to contact Member, and Pastor, maybe not thinking quickly enough, agrees.

    Deacon happened to be standing right there, and realizes the predicament Pastor is in, but says nothing. Later that week, however, Deacon stops by Pastor's office and advises Pastor that new legislation in Texas allows for more details to be posted online concerning sex offenders. Deacon reveals that the updated info on the sex offender website lists multiple occurrences of child pornography, and one indecency with a child on Member's record.

    Pastor feels obligated to protect his flock, but ALSO knows that Member may be wanting to get straightened out.

    As yet, Pastor has not contacted Member, but has already stated he would.

    Comments?
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

  • #2
    Does Texas's website state how long ago these convictions were?
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
      Does Texas's website state how long ago these convictions were?
      Good question, KG.

      Website shows occurrences from 2002 through 2007. Status of sex offender is labeled "life".
      "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

      Comment


      • #4
        I can surely see the bind that Pastor is in. I think that he and "older wiser deacon" should visit member together to provide a witness. Explain what they know and ask about his current status and why he has given up attending. I have not real idea as to how to deal with it, but known sin should be examined. That should probably include Senior Adult Woman. I have no real practical advice for pastor.
        Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
          Good question, KG.

          Website shows occurrences from 2002 through 2007. Status of sex offender is labeled "life".
          Hmm, okay. I'm certainly going to defer to the wisdom of some of the older and wiser people here but one thing I do want to point out is that we can't determine anything about how severe the particular crime was (I mean, we all know that's a serious crime, but I hope you get what I'm saying) because the Adam Walsh Act says that anybody convicted of child pornography automatically gets on the list for life.
          "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

          Comment


          • #6
            I'd like to offer my professional opinion as a counselor as well as my personal opinion as a person with a family member who is on the registered sex offender list.

            My family member was a victim of repeated sexual abuse from a very young age up to his teenaged years. He did not develop in this area in a healthy way. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and registered for an offense against a minor. He is not a predator and he is not a dangerous criminal. He is a broken man trying very hard to live a normal, law-abiding life. But, he'll be on that list forever and he got more damage done by his prison and probation experience than he received real help for his brokenness. The only thing that keeps him moving forward in a healthy direction is the gospel, however weak his walk is. It is where he has found hope and where he has found love where the rest of the world would simply call him a monster and cast him out. That's the personal opinion (obviously).

            Professionally, I would advise similarly to Jed, in that I suggest both Pastor and Deacon visit together, though not with the older woman present. I would come as bearers of the good news with its message of grace and allow the member to express himself openly. He may cry for help. He may ask for discipleship or accountability. He may need to confess. He may lie through is teeth. Until the meeting takes place, you won't be in a position to discern the best way to minister to him. But, I do believe it is one of church leadership's primary responsibilities to tend it's flock and to go after the strays. Yes, another responsibility is to protect the flock from danger, but I don't see any obvious danger yet and I think the visit would help you determine that further.

            If the older woman is not asking for help with her financial status (I'm not sure how this knowledge was made available to you), it may not be relevant to this discussion. If you determine a crime is being committed, that's another matter. Even if he is taking advantage of her, it sounds as though this is limited to their relationship and would not necessarily make him a danger to the entire flock. I'm just responding to the information you've posted, so I may not have all the data.

            Bottom line is that this man indicates he wants to be reached out to...I say reach out and give him a blank sheet of paper to write on. Then, pray, reconsider, and decide together what the best course of action is. Matthew 18 is your guide. Without witnesses to his refusal to be restored, there's no biblical example I know of that would justify treating him any differently than any other member of your congregation.

            I'm interested to know if you found this helpful.
            sigpic
            "...so encourage each other and build one another up." ~1 Thessalonians 5:11

            Comment


            • #7
              This is hard. Sex offenders CAN be repentant, however the fact that the intuition is up tells me that while perhaps it is right to stay in touch with Member, Protection of the Flock comes first. There are other ways to keep the flock protected and allow the member to come to church, and if member TRULY wants reform then as much embarrassment as they may cause, it will allow for both. Accountability partnership? Such as having another gentleman sit with member during service and "chaperone." Calling member every once in a while. Seeing if member checks in with PO officer. Praying with. Finding appropriate fellowships. Allowing member not the chance to sin, but giving member the chance to be with Jesus. If member resists the idea that flock may need protection even from his own temptations, that should really bring up red flags and member may not be ready to be alone with the general public and ready to reform. Of course on the same line as Jardin, some sex offenders its something like statutory offense or abuse of a family member in which case they are not dangerous criminals. Child porn, predatory molestation and rape are different stories all together.
              Just some thoughts
              Last edited by Catholicity; 01-31-2014, 10:43 PM.
              A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
              George Bernard Shaw

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JardinPrayer View Post
                I'd like to offer my professional opinion as a counselor as well as my personal opinion as a person with a family member who is on the registered sex offender list.

                My family member was a victim of repeated sexual abuse from a very young age up to his teenaged years. He did not develop in this area in a healthy way. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and registered for an offense against a minor. He is not a predator and he is not a dangerous criminal. He is a broken man trying very hard to live a normal, law-abiding life. But, he'll be on that list forever and he got more damage done by his prison and probation experience than he received real help for his brokenness. The only thing that keeps him moving forward in a healthy direction is the gospel, however weak his walk is. It is where he has found hope and where he has found love where the rest of the world would simply call him a monster and cast him out. That's the personal opinion (obviously).

                Professionally, I would advise similarly to Jed, in that I suggest both Pastor and Deacon visit together, though not with the older woman present. I would come as bearers of the good news with its message of grace and allow the member to express himself openly. He may cry for help. He may ask for discipleship or accountability. He may need to confess. He may lie through is teeth. Until the meeting takes place, you won't be in a position to discern the best way to minister to him. But, I do believe it is one of church leadership's primary responsibilities to tend it's flock and to go after the strays. Yes, another responsibility is to protect the flock from danger, but I don't see any obvious danger yet and I think the visit would help you determine that further.

                If the older woman is not asking for help with her financial status (I'm not sure how this knowledge was made available to you), it may not be relevant to this discussion. If you determine a crime is being committed, that's another matter. Even if he is taking advantage of her, it sounds as though this is limited to their relationship and would not necessarily make him a danger to the entire flock. I'm just responding to the information you've posted, so I may not have all the data.

                Bottom line is that this man indicates he wants to be reached out to...I say reach out and give him a blank sheet of paper to write on. Then, pray, reconsider, and decide together what the best course of action is. Matthew 18 is your guide. Without witnesses to his refusal to be restored, there's no biblical example I know of that would justify treating him any differently than any other member of your congregation.

                I'm interested to know if you found this helpful.
                Lemme read over this a few more times, but it's pretty close to what Pastor was already considering.
                "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think Jardin is spot on.
                  The State. Ideas so good they have to be mandatory.

                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd also find out, if only out of curiosity, if member is getting counseling, therapy, etc. or if he's winging it all on his own (may indicate if he's serious about changing or just looking for his next prey). I really don't know if I would risk letting him around any children in my church if I led one.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would hardly joke about something as serious as an omen of the end of the present age. The only joke is that not an ounce of suspicion is cast on the Senior Adult Woman. It is true and right to feel at the very least an air of suspicion and wrongness upon seeing two people together who don't visually match any of the romantic dreams of youth, and to keep them at arm's length for fear of how they may respond to the innocent among you, whether in spite, jealousy, or misplaced erotic attachment.

                      But in the end, while being social outcasts may often be evidence of sin, it is not a sin in itself. Them what deserves each other, finds each other. And if your church is so fragile and fragmented that one difficult case kills it, you'll find it hard indeed to stand against the world. The price of sin is paid in Christ, the scars of sin remain, and if the sinners are truly repentant, they may serve as object lessons and visible warnings at the very least. If not, let them go their way, if they never had anything but a tenuous attachment to you in the first place. Your church can handle them or it can't, your leaders can feel themselves capable of watching them for any untoward activity or not. There are ten thousand sermons on those who believed themselves ready to take up trials but faltered as soon as one presented itself.

                      If you feel yourself not ready to say anything, say nothing. If you feel you must say something, leave absolutely nothing unsaid, for they will hear more and worse in rumors, whispers and glances should you fail to prepare them. It is not your job to fear the world, but to name the Nameless fears, that not one psychological excuse or social contrivance may be considered more fearful than God and His Son Himself. The wicked flee where no man pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        First, thanks to everyone for complying with the "guidelines".

                        Now ... THIS JUST IN....

                        Pastor was at a Leadership Breakfast this morning (City Manager, City Mayor, Superintendent of Schools, Police Chief, Sheriff... all genuine committed Christians) and the special guest speaker addressed this very issue, without ever knowing the issue was an issue.

                        I'll give a summary of that shortly, but right now am on "fire watch". (Burning leaves, brush, limbs after cleanup, and wind is picking up a bit)
                        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Just to clear up one thing - I did not intend to include the Senior Adult woman in the visit with the Member. I meant include her in the should be met with category.
                          Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post
                            First, thanks to everyone for complying with the "guidelines".

                            Now ... THIS JUST IN....

                            Pastor was at a Leadership Breakfast this morning (City Manager, City Mayor, Superintendent of Schools, Police Chief, Sheriff... all genuine committed Christians) and the special guest speaker addressed this very issue, without ever knowing the issue was an issue.

                            I'll give a summary of that shortly, but right now am on "fire watch". (Burning leaves, brush, limbs after cleanup, and wind is picking up a bit)
                            And people say God doesn't perform miracles today?
                            "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So, the Leadership Breakfast generally has a guest speaker who brings a devotional, or maybe even a sermon, or a personal testimony.

                              Today was a guy named Dana Lamont Thomas who grew up on the "South Side of Chicago" in poverty, grew up on welfare, and -- long story short -- after a disastrous time in school, constantly fighting and getting suspended, an eighth grade teacher took an interest in him, and challenged him to make something of himself. Previously, he had been inculcated with "you'll NEVER amount to anything", and he believed it.

                              But this eighth grade teacher told him she saw "leadership" in him, and constantly encouraged and challenged him to "do better".

                              He was talking about how many times he was rejected by society because he got into... well, one of those "loser" stories. But he got straightened out, and became a Pastor, and in his first Church, a man who was a homosexual joined. (hang on, he dealt with explaining it appropriately, and was confessing his error) He tells how he instantly felt repulsed that this man came to his congregation, and would actually "hit on him" (the homosexual man, apparently, was "acting out", and was "hitting on" the Pastor, in front of the Pastor's wife)

                              He went into some entertaining antics about how he wanted to punch this dude out, and wished he would just "go away". Then it hit him that this man needed Jesus as much as anybody else who came to his Church, and he had to figure out how to make that work.

                              In the process of this, he shared about another guy who was a sex offender, but in this case, the guy was 18 and had had sex with a 16 year old, and the way it was written up (he didn't go into detail) the guy would have "sex offender" tacked to his name FOR LIFE.

                              He also talked about people who have been in prison, that they'll always be an "ex con".... and you can do all kinds of things and be forgiven, and we don't discriminate, but it's "LEGAL DISCRIMINATION" to require a man to put "felon" on his job applications and everything else. We claim that somebody who has "done their time" has "paid their debt to society", but not REALLY, because they will always be "an ex con" or "a felon".

                              But, of course, the "sex offender" part really caught my attention, because it was just YESTERDAY that I started this thread.

                              More thoughts later....
                              Last edited by Cow Poke; 02-01-2014, 10:16 PM.
                              "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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