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Those are the words of a Jacksonville, FL pastor to his congregation after the church’s youth pastor was arrested last week for sexually molesting a 15-year-old girl. Truth is… I’ve heard these words way too many times. “These allegations come as a complete shock.” Should they, really? Should there not have been some warning signs?  Could there not have been a way to protect the church (and this 15 year-old from this youth pastor?) Well… yes, and no. First, you can never truly stop someone from doing something like this.  Even with the best safeguards, the attraction of sin is so strong that they will find a way around the safeguards put in place. That said… most churches do NOT have adequate safeguards in place. In some ways it’s hard to believe that these things come as a ‘complete shock’. No body gets up in the morning and accidentally (or in the spur of the moment) has sex with a 15 year old girl.  That just doesn’t happen. Something was happening long before that in the heart of the youth pastor. And we have to constantly be looking for the signs. We have to care about our employees, not just about their work, but about their family and their lives. Are they happy, balanced, unstressed? Are they accountable to anyone? Do we notice anything different about them? These types of behavior are nearly always the acting out of some area of unhealthiness in a person. And we need to be sure that we are never in complete shock. I wonder… have you ever had an instance where you had a friend or staff member fall like this?  If so, was it a complete shock?  In retrospect, should you have seen in coming in some way, shape or form?  Or did they totally hide things and completely fool you? I’d love to hear your perspective… // Read more here…
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Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Daytona beach is hosting Operation Safe Surrender today.  It’s a program that is encouraging fugitives to turn themselves in. Here’s how it works.  Fugitives turn themselves in (rather than wait for the cops to beat down their door.) In return, the fugitive will have his first appearance at the church via closed circuit TV before a county judge.  There will also be ten public defenders available at the church as a resource to them. In addition, the church will provide pastors for spiritual counseling at the same time. In return for turning themselves in, the criminals, at least those charged with non-violent felonies or misdemeanors, will likely receive dropped or reduced charges. This is the third time that the church has partnered with the police and county in this program. What do you think?  Is this a good idea?  I’m really surprised that no one has cried foul on the separation of church and state issue. Would your church participate in such a program if asked? Read more here… Todd