How does a church minister to a coverted, sex offender?

I received many difficult questions at the workshop on Monday evening.  But, this one stuck out to me as especially difficult.  Here was the nature of the question from a pastor:

How do I and our church minister to a man who appears radically converted, desires to come to our church, but had been a convicted child molester and long-time sex offender?

Here are a few thoughts:

We should try to minister to a man as this, especially if he is converted.  No one should be turned away from our doors as Jesus was seen with the vilest of sinners.   This is what the gospel is all about!  However, you cannot ignore the “elephant in the room.”   Here are a few suggestions having faced this in comparable ways before:

1) Appoint a “host” for him while he is at church.  Hand pick a very reliable man whose sole job that day is to meet him outside in the parking lot, walk in with him, and be attached to this man’s hip.  Pick a host who is spiritually mature, gracious, who understands the importance of his role, but will not make him feel like a prisoner in church.

Explain to the offender attending that this is what this man’s role is and that he must be seen with him at all times.  Pick a host who will take him to talk with others and it will be a good way for this new guy to meet and converse with folks he might not otherwise feel comfortable with and vice versa.

2) Inform the church ahead of time in some way of what is happening (email, member’s meeting, etc), so they know you are taking strict precautions to protect the safety of the people and especially the children.  This allows the church as a whole to ”keep watch” in a loving way.

3) Inform all children’s workers of the situation weekly and report who the man’s “host” is for that week.  Allow them the freedom to ask questions as they feel the responsibility to protect their own children as well as the children in their room for that week.

4) One strike and your out.  There is no grace period for this man.  If he is found alone without his “host” once…that is it.  He needs to be placed in a position to be loved by the people, but must realize your responsibility as a shepherd before God to protect the sheep first and foremost.

5) Remind your people that this is what the gospel is all about.  Jesus died for the most wretched of sinners and we deserved the same punishment for our sins from our righteous and holy God as this man does for his rebellion against God and crimes against others.  If he is truly converted, you want your people to rejoice in the hope of the gospel more than fear for their children when they see this man coming.  Shepherding through teaching and example is how God by His Spirit will form that culture in your local church over time.

I praise God for the opportunity you have to remind your people of the gospel and how sufficient, powerful, and glorious the mercy of God is in Christ!  But, be wise also dear brother.  Know for sure the enemy is prowling like a lion in your midst desiring to use this situation to divide your church…or worse.  I pray the Lord gives you great wisdom, discernment, and grace as you attempt to care for this man and your people through him coming.

Posted in Discipleship

How did the Practical Shepherding Workshop go?

1932487_674727919231269_1840867781288940253_nI couldn’t be more pleased with how well the workshop went.  The hospitality from SBTS was wonderful and well done.  The PS staff did a great job.  Everything went smooth.  We had a good crowd including several walk-ins we were able to accommodate.  As you can see, we had a full room.  Even through the Q and A, everyone stayed engaged and hung in there into the late hour.

It was a great joy to meet the pastors who attended.  Other pastors connected with each other in fruitful ways.  Grateful to God for this encouraging start to this new facet of our ministry!

Posted in The Pastor's Soul

Where and when can I meet and talk with Brian Croft at T4G?

Just a note to say thank you for those of you who wrote me inviting me to a meal or coffee with you during the week of T4G.  I am torn as I would love to sit down with each of you and hear about your life, and family and ministry.  Unfortunately, the demands on my time during that week make me unable to schedule those individual meetings.  However, I would still love to meet each of you and talk with you a bit.  Here are some of the times I will be available to meet you and chat with you a few minutes:

- Monday evening @SBTS during the Practical Shepherding Workshop 6 pm – 10 pm.

- Wednesday afternoon @ the Practical Shepherding Exhibit booth during the long break 1 pm - 4 pm.

- Wednesday evening @ the Practical Shepherding Exhibit booth during the evening dinner break 6 pm – 8 pm.

- Thursday afternoon @ the Practical Shepherding Exhibit booth during the lunch break 12:30 pm – 2 pm.

I will look forward to meeting you!  Thanks for your understanding and effort.

See you next week, Lord willing,

Brian Croft

Posted in Promotion

What are 3 ways for a pastor to prepare his heart for a funeral?

Because there are so many elements to plan and logistics to prepare for, it is not uncommon for the pastor to have all his words prepared, service planned out, everyone in place, processional details checked off, and realize an essential element had been neglected—the pastor’s heart.  Do not become enslaved to the tyranny of funeral preparation, only to stand and conduct with an empty, drained, and calloused heart.  Do not underestimate the emotional and mental drain in comforting the grieving while preparing and performing a funeral.  Thus, there are three areas for the pastor to take time and prepare his heart, mind, and soul.

1)  Prepare for the unexpected.  Just when you think you have seen it all—the next funeral reveals you haven’t.  Even if you have seen fights break out, arrests made, uncontrollable wailing, family members and pallbearers fainting, caskets dropped and knocked over, shouting conflicts between families and funeral directors, or funeral attire that would make most people blush,  these experiences do not mean at all the next funeral will fit these experiences.  Because of this, prepare to see anything.  Prepare to get the craziest response to something you say.  Prepare to watch families at their worst.  This will allow you to think clearly and wisely when the unexpected happens.

2)  Prepare to minister God’s word  Though there is much to manage, administrate, and facilitate, you are not the concierge of the funeral.  You are a minister of God’s word and a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Prepare your heart, mind and soul however you must, so that when you stand before people at the beginning of the funeral service, you stand to minister God’s word, trusting God will work mightily through his word.

3)  Prepare to extend the hope of Christ.  You are not there to solve the family conflicts or to help the funeral home learn how to function more smoothly.  You are there to clearly present to each person the hope we have from sin and death because of Christ.  You can best prepare by thinking about who will be at the funeral service.  Consider what kinds of questions you could ask the family to surmise their spiritual condition as you talk with them.  Prepare questions ahead of time from the words you have prepared to share, so that gospel opportunities might show themselves in those conversations.

Wearing your administrator and facilitator cap through the process is necessary.  It will serve you as a helpful companion to maneuver through all the details and demands that always accompany funerals.  Nevertheless, you are ultimately a pastor and evangelist who is called upon by the Chief Shepherd to prepare and conduct funerals of dead men as “a dying man preaching to dying men.” Prepare and conduct funerals knowing the grieving are hurting, longing for tender care, and must look to Jesus as their only hope.




Posted in Funerals

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