As a father and a pastor, my heart is broken with, and for, Seward Road Baptist Church. Charges related to child pornography were filed earlier this week against a children’s Sunday School teacher according to this News 9 report. We, as parents, entrust our children to the church and her workers for spiritual instruction and guidance. It is unfortunate when something like this happens. People live double, hidden, lives every day. In this instance it severely affects others and the church.
Some might casually argue that it will only affect that church. First, because of media outlets today everyone will know about this. Parents will start asking leadership in other places about policies and procedures in place in their local environment. Second, Satan will use this to whatever degree he can. Dangling fear and mistrust in front of 20- and 30-somethings is like offering candy to a child and expecting a no. Third, Family means everything to them. Our churches are a critical component to healthy families and must take all precautions possible in this area. The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is offering a seminar on preventing abuse. I highly recommend attending one of these this month if you live in the area.
We must be safe. Churches have not always been on the cutting edge in this area. We must do better for our babies and for our Savior. There are several background services available. This is a cost, but what is that compared to the possible problems? Anyone working with kids under 18 should be required to have this check done. Anyone that has something discovered needs to be addressed. Anyone who has a history in this needs to be dismissed from working with minors. Having them sign a covenant of where they can and cannot be in the building. This provides accountability with them and for parents. Doing this will seem intrusive, but we must take a long-view approach in this area.
We must be hopeful. Churches have not always been on the cutting edge here either. We certainly offer hope in Jesus Christ. However, we do not always offer hope in difficult moments. When someone is sick, we pray and are filled with hope-speak. When someone fails morally, we tend to run. It is in these moments that hope is needed. The one who is discovered with a past is still a child of God. They can still serve God. We must creative in that provision. Let us provide hope in hopeless times. Let us look toward a better future because of our safety precautions. Let us make these decisions from a stance of hope not despair.
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2: 15-17
Jesus Christ died to remove our sin guilt before God. When someone makes poor choices in this particular area, repentance leads to forgiveness. However, the consequences stick with you. When Jesus told the man to pick up his mat and walk, He intended for the guy to carry the memory with him as a tool to spur him forward in life. The consequences we face that result from our sin stick with us. While we as the church are to honor hope and grace, to remove the consequences could be life threatening. Growth does not come without discipline. As long we are propelling people forward in their life we have a firmer grasp on grace. Give grace. Reveal God.