How One Church Responded to a Sex Offender
An open-door policy still comes with its costs.

Last month, we highlighted Sex Offenders in the Pews, Marian Liautaud's article in Christianity Today that is based largely on research we conducted earlier this year. This week, Leadership Journal, another one of our sister publications, published "Sex Offenders: Coming to a Church Near You," Marian's article about this topic from the view of church pastors and staff members.

Of particular note: A small church in the Northeast worked hard to integrate a convicted sex offender after his release from prison. After numerous meetings with families, the pastor decided integration could work–and could reinforce the church's redemptive mission. It's a theme that emerged from our research (nearly 8 in 10 church leaders say they're open to a sex offender's attendance, with proper supervision and appropriate limitations in place).

But in the case of this church in the Northeast, such an approach still comes with its costs:

"At a small church like ours, comfort zones got pressed beyond normal ranges because people were forced to interact with the sex offender, whether they wanted to or not," the pastor says. One by one, Bryant noticed families going out the back door.

How is your church addressing this question?

To learn more, check out:

- The 2010 Sex Offenders in the Church Survey (a free executive report);

- Richard Hammar's "Sex Offenders in the Church" Feature Report;

- "Sex Offenders in the Church," a training resource for church leaders;

- "Juvenile Offenders in the Church," a training resource for church leaders;

- Reducing the Risk, 3rd Edition, Richard Hammar's training resource for church leaders to prevent sexual abuse.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."


Displaying 1–3 of 3 comments


January 23, 2014  7:15pm

If I am not mistaken Jesus was once asked by a pharisee what the greatest commandment was. I also believe it went like this: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength, this is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it. Love your neighbor as thyself. Upon these two commandments lay all the law and the prophets. There is something that really sticks out to me here. Love your neighbor as thyself. I believe in order to have love, one must have trust. So why not say Trust your neighbor as thyself. So, my question then would be how well do you trust yourself? I am a saved ex-sex offender. If God can save the woman caught in the very act of adultery, and asked her where her accusers were after he started writing in the sand, then maybe we should do as he did and say let he who hath no sin cast the first stone. Do you have sin in your life? Think really hard for at what measure you judge a person so also shall ye be judged. The Bible also says for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. If we were all perfect then Jesus would not have needed to come down to earth to offer us a way to save us. I say this also: I believe that there is no law, registry, or officer that could really stop a person from committing a horrendous offence as touching a child under the age of fifteen. What stops a person from doing that is themselves. I say stop all the foolishness, stop all the wasting of tax paying dollars spent on going after "first time offenders" and watching them like they are vultures waiting for death to come. And put out money towards something that would help the country like balancing the budget and paying the national debt off.

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Robert Curtis

June 15, 2013  8:30pm

As a registered EX-sex offender myself I am blessed to be at a church that doesn't use invasive supervisory tactics that would single me out and make the other congregants feel uncomfortable. Mariner's Church Irvine has these surveillance system throughout the church and church grounds thereby giving his staff the ability to watch me and others without violating the worship atmosphere of the church. Consider following his wisdom in this regard in your churches and in doing so better serve your community as a whole. Note about the sex offender registry. In my opinion the highest form of ANTI-Christian evil that exist today is the Sex offender registry. Why? Look at it's fruit. There is only darkness tied to it and it gives a citizen that has paid their debt to society no form of redemption. If someone is so bad they must be on a registry WHY ARE THEY AMONG US? The registry is evil and wrong. It harms much more that it helps. The registry defines the scripture Proverbs 16:25 that states, "there is a way to a man that seems right but the end thereof is the ways of death." There are children on that list as young as 9 years old. Christians please pray about this.

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Nicky Edgar

July 25, 2012  12:08pm

I recently found out a man I helped in outreach served almost 12 years for a shoot out w/police, 7 other sentences, 2 of which are CSC 4. He's a lifetime probationer who began to harass me after he presumed I was rejecting him (no knowledge of CSC then). I knew something was wrong, I'm a survivor of 10 years of sexual abuse. Found out truth but one of ministers says I'm wrong for not believing God can save all sinners. Do I forsake safety of self, children, and other vunerable populations because they want to help him save his soul. My reality from the urban community says he is seeking something else. I propose leaving the church.

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