Regarding Marriage, Employment or Volunteers – If it is the Churches Policy that church membership is a requirement to be involved in ANY church activity, this is the ultimate in having a “Fire wall” of protection from the homosexual activists, and aggressive sexual predators. And it’s legally defensible. Please see our article Safe Church Policy as well.
This On-Line Article, originally written regarding the issue of screening our volunteers and employees, is again reviewed in light of the ongoing battle in the state of California. The battle was over “Proposition 8,” which gives the right for homosexuals to marry. Some churches have already been approached with the request [demand] to be married in the church. We believe to refuse such a demand, the church runs the risk of being sued in civil court for discrimination, or even for committing a ‘hate crime.’
Is there an “answer” to this threat? Yes! Meaningful Church Membership. Please read the following, as we discuss not only this issue, but who can be involved in church activities and leadership. See how meaningful church membership will allow you to respond in a simple non-confrontational way, that will likely diffuse a potentially volatile situation, and yet is defensible in the court of law.
Increasingly we read disturbing accounts of molestation (and accusations of other wrong behavior) in the church. This is a problem in every “Religious” institution – not just the Church. It is not a new problem, for it has always been so, but perhaps we are becoming acutely aware of just how bad it is. The Insurance Companies have now drawn the line – or should I say the purse strings, and are saying quite plainly. “We’ll insure you for burned buildings, and broken limbs, but if you want coverage for allegations of ‘Sexual Misconduct,’ you will be required to demonstrate that you are actively screening your volunteers and workers, and that you have adopted a ‘Sexual Abuse and Prevention Program.’ “
It is not the Catholic Church alone, for there have been many shameful revelations over the past 15 or 20 years, but in the Catholic Church alone, there have now been at least five  Diocese’ that have declared bankruptcy because of the huge claims against them. Claims that were far and above the amount of insurance coverage they had in force. After having paid out multi-millions of dollars in insurance claims, the insurance companies have finally come to the place of saying, “We’re not going to keep on doing this, and if you want insurance for ‘Sexual Misconduct’, you will have to get your house in order, and ‘really know them who are laboring among you.’ ”
Does the Pastor and leaders have the right to say who can, and who cannot be involved in leadership, be married in the church, or work with the children? Yes, he does. The US Supreme Court ruling [on June 28,. 2000 in James Dale vs the Boy Scouts of America,] in favor of the Boy Scouts said, “This is a private organization, and they have the right to establish standards of qualifications for it’s leadership, and it’s membership. This applies to the church as well.
An Analogy – Historically, when the Shepard prepared a place for his flock for the night, he built a “Sheepfold,” which was an open-ended enclosure, for a place of safety. Then, having built a fire to keep the wild animals at bay, he would lie down in the gateway and go to sleep. Today: Think of “Church Membership” as the sheepfold, where God’s intentions are for it is to be a place of safety.
What exactly, is meaningful church membership anyway? How should Church Membership be presented? Using the previous analogy, the “Sheepfold,” is a picture of church membership; and the Iron bars in the gateway are the “Standards” for membership. eg:
- A mandatory series [6 to 10] of classes, for prospective members, where they will learn about the church. It’s history; theology; government; beliefs and practice about worship and finances [you know - tithing].
- Along the way, perhaps while the session about church government is being taught – By-Laws really should be given to every class attendee. [Why do that, you might say? Answer. How can you possibly hold a member accountable to church standards unless you put a copy of "The Tenants of Faith," those biblical standards, in his hand?];
- The Applicant should be given an application for church membership, wherein signing, he affirms that “This is the place where I believe God would have me to be ‘planted.’ And he would agree to support the church with his time, tithes and talents, the pastor and it’s leadership with faithful attendance and a teachable spirit.” And at the conclusion of these classes, he would submit his application for membership; and finally,
- The application is reviewed by the pastor, and approved [or rejected]. The pastor might know, or discern, something about the applicant that letting him/her wait for a little while, would be best for the church. So you see, the Shepard’s body still lies in the gateway to the sheepfold, for the protection of the flock.
The ultimate Policy for protecting our children:
Laws are being written and enacted all over our land, where it is illegal to “Discriminate” when it comes to who we will marry, and not allowing the sexually perverse applicant to be involved in the church choir, work as the Secretary or otherwise be involved as church leadership. If the church would simply adopt a Policy where, “Any person aspiring to marry, or be involved in church leadership, at any level, or work with the children, must be a member of this church, or another ‘like’ church approved of by the Senior Pastor.” Now there is simply no need to discuss whether or not the applicant(s) is living a biblical lifestyle, and that that is influencing the decision of hiring or allowing him/her to be [or not to be] involved in the church. If they are not a Church Member, then that is the end of the discussion.……
A Final Thought:
Having Church Membership, Membership Standards of excellence, and adopting this “Ultimate Policy,” is the only means of screening and being able to do so successfully. It is also the best means of protecting our children from the predators, the molesters, and the Pedophile who would attempt to come in and violate our children. “Lay hands suddenly on no man,” 1 Tim 5:22. This verse could (should ?) cause us to think about, “Allowing no man or woman to come (suddenly) into our Church and lay hands on our children.”
Please see our Manual on Screening Volunteers, for everything you will need to screen the prospective volunteer or employee, and then be able to conduct the interview and background check. This Manual is also on a CD-Rom, and is available with the purchase of the manual, with all the Worksheets, Forms and Policies.
The above information is provided as a service to the Body of Christ by ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANCE.
If you would like more information about similar issues, please consider “The Church Administration ‘How To’ Manual” This Manual, endorsed by three CPA’s, an EA and two attorneys, was updated in January, 2011, for the 12th time, since its original publication in 1991.
© Copyright 2007 By Administrative Assistance – Rev. Don Buckel – Director
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