Ministry in an urban setting is often complex and dynamic, particularly for a young church. One of the benefits of urban ministry is the broad scope of individuals we are able to reach and grow in Jesus with. Yet, this also presents its own challenges, particularly when it comes to registered sex offenders. As you may know, “sex offenders” are often treated like modern day lepers, required to cry out “unclean” by the county/state government. The church has a responsibility to serve and shepherd them, along with all others, in appropriate ways.
Most churches have “sex offenders” participating, though each church responds differently to them. Some churches ignore the issue altogether and do not inform the congregation of their involvement. This is clearly foolish and unwise. Some churches are so large that it becomes difficult to keep track of who is participating, presenting its own unique challenges. Other churches refuse the involvement of “sex offenders” entirely. While this may be the wisest course of action at times, it should not be the norm. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Even when were enemies of God, far from him, Christ died for us (Rom5:8). There has to be a better way, informed by the gospel.
From time to time we will have a registered “sex offender” request to worship and participate with Downtown Cornerstone. They’ll either come to us directly or we will be notified. Because this is a real ministry opportunity we have put together the attached Sex Offender Policy & Steps to Worship. It is designed to protect families, members, visitors and “sex offenders” by encouraging accountability, full-disclosure, and compliance with the laws of Washington State. Our aim is love and our hope for all is complete redemption. Jesus promises it, if we trust him. However, there are consequences for sin and, therefore, a need for wise balance of discerning guidelines and loving policies for the welfare of all.
As a young church, our resources are limited but our hope is that this will give us some parameters within which to best serve, shepherd and love everyone that Jesus sees fit to bring into our community. Redemption is real. We hold out that hope for all – including those given the classification of “sex offender”. I hope this is helpful for others in our same position as us, as a newly forming church. Would love to see any adjustments or improvements you may make. You can get the Sex Offender Policy & Steps to Worship here.