Revisiting “Drastic Measures to Avoid Moral Failure”

by ShaunKing on June 25, 2009 · 55 comments

A few months ago I wrote what has been the most popular, discussed, debated post on this blog entitled Drastic Measures to Avoid Moral Failure.  The comments there are even better than the post and the discussion is pretty raw and revealing as people obviously feel very passionate about all sides of this issue.

Although many of the women that commented applauded and understood my stance, I was a bit stung (but informed) by some the comments from women that felt like my drastic measures reduced them to second class citizens.  As a father of four daughters and husband to an outspoken Spelman woman, I think of myself as pretty doggone refined on women’s issues and concerns.

Anyways, I want to revisit this post because I have been leading Courageous Church for about 4 more months since I posted it and have found one particular strategy I suggested to be very difficult to actually live out.  Here is that strategy as quoted directly from my original post:

I go to great lengths to never be alone with another woman and have done this for the past 10+ years.  It’s not that I think women are falling all over me (they aren’t), but I don’t even want the appearance or possibility of failure to be out there.  Some people actually see this as some type of admission of weakness on my part.  Maybe so, but I don’t care.  The proof that it works is my marriage.

While I still believe in this principle, I have found it to be much more difficult to live out in our young church than I expected.  Here’s why:

  • When I was on the staff of a megachurch, taught at a public school, or worked at large non-profits, this principle was pretty easy to live out because other people were almost always around.  Now that I work for a new startup with a tiny staff with weird hours, this is amazingly difficult.  I don’t have an assistant to serve as a present safeguard and we don’t yet have regular volunteers (but will soon).
  • While we have a lot of men working hard, we have way more women volunteering (particularly from 9 to 5) in our office.  They bust their butts and get stuff done.  Sometimes you know they’re showing up. Sometimes you don’t. They’ve demolished and painted walls, assembled furniture, taken out trash, and done pretty much everything that we’ve needed done to remodel our new office and ministry space.
  • I have found it particularly tricky to live this out in the real world. For instance, if I am alone in  the office assembling furniture and a female volunteer comes in to assemble furniture, what do I do?  Quit putting furniture together and leave? Ask her to leave? Call for backup?  You see…it’s a bit messy and weird.

In spite of the difficulty of living out this principle, I still understand it and value it, but am going to have to take some additional steps if it’s going to be a reality.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’ll join the conversation.  I think my wife will join in too.

  • Timothy

    Shaun, read my strategy on avoiding moral failure here http://bit.ly/xaHOR

  • http://bit.ly/aboutchristina Christina

    I've only been actively involved with church community since 2006 so this whole concept is kind of new / different to me. There are points I greatly honor and appreciate about such strategies. But it does make me feel like I'm some sort of object of sin to men at times. Like, if suddenly I find myself alone in a room with a man (even if it's a very large room/office/etc.) I feel like I'm really doing something terribly wrong and I feel like running out of the room or wish he would just leave so I wouldn't feel awkward (all because of this known concept/strategy). But if he DOES leave…I'm like..dang do I smell? LOL jk. Maybe it makes men feel horrible to be a man, but it also makes me feel horrible to be a woman. I guess it's just this messed up world we live in and many times we have to take "silly" measures to guard ourselves.

  • http://yourministryhelper.com Valerie

    Because your church is young and you don't have a staff in place or regular office hours, this will be particularly difficult for you. I applaud your desire to avoid even the appearance of wrong doing.

    Right now, the only thing I see is to try to make sure other people are always around and keep your door open. I have worked in ministry for over 15 years and I know that even though you are trying to do the right thing, it doesn't mean that the women around you want to do the right thing. Women are attracted to power and they are attracted to the anointing.

    Don't sell yourself short because you think women are not falling all over you. The smart ones who prey (yes, I said prey) on ministers and pastors will not show it, they will slowly and methodically draw you in.

    Keep your distance, keep your guard up and watch your back.

  • http://www.thekidpreacher.wordpress.com @billy_johnson

    Sean, I appreciate your stance! I share it. Here is a little more to add to it that I have. I will never PLAN to be alone with a woman. For those occasions where it just happens, I will leave it in God's hands, and I will use judgment and wisdom to guide. Sometimes that means to run like the wind. Sometimes that means relocating our conversation. Sometimes it means dealing with it, and moving on. Just a thought.

  • http://www.wholelifechurch.net Pastor O

    I agree with you Pastor Shaun
    One principal, i share with all Christians and especially leaders, "don't trust yourself". It doesn't mean that we have to walk around in a state of paranoid or to feel that the regeneration power of the Holy Spirit doesn't work, but safe guard yourself against the obvious, don't play with fire. Some measures may seem extreme but I don't want to abuse the term…"we are all human" and become a watered down version of what we can be if we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide. That means when a situation produces an alert in your spirit….run and ask questions later. We can have the best intentions in the world, but we shouldn't allow them to be that questionable, and to keep it really, really real, we know when something is about to set off….and if we don't start dialing 911 right away….help might be too late

  • http://yourministryhelper.com Valerie

    Christina, if your motives are pure, don't worry about it. These concepts are not just for the church, they are for corporate as well. They are not just for male pastors, they are for female pastors also.

    Power and authority can be very intoxicating. Ask your mom or some older woman about Henry Kissinger. He didn't look like much but he had his choice of beautiful women.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kbarger Keith Barger

    This is absolutely difficult. But worth the difficulty. And there are many ways of making things still workable. We have windows in all our doors. This way, I can meet with a woman in full view of the staff, but not in earshot. If there's nobody else in the office, I schedule a time when someone else will be around. Scheduling is the key.

    I believe that most women understand the purpose and need for this kind of standard within the church. But I believe it should carry over into the life of each Christian. I wouldn't like my wife to meet alone with another man, in church or out of it. So that standard should hold true for me as well.

    The way I look at it is this. Decide where the line of moral failure is. Then make your own standard so far from that line that there is no way you can fail morally even if you accidentally cross your own standard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shaunmarshall Shaun

    You know what's interesting, Pastor, is that for as many men and women, mighty people of God in the body that we have seen experience very public, very damaging and very embarrassing moral failures, we really don' t see the topic discussed too much. One would think that after you name drop some of the big ones that have gone down over the years that someone would, like, make this into a conference "How to Avoid Moral Failure in Ministry" or at least a workshop at a Leadership Conference…but I've never seen one.

    I think its because, unfortunately, by the time most people could speak very powerfully on the subject of moral failure, they are in the middle of trying to cover up some sin issue that could go public, and they are trying to avoid the topic like the black plague…and by the time most people in ministry would sit to hear such a topic presented, rather than digesting the steps to avoiding the sin issue that causes the moral failure, their mind would gravitate to "okay…how can I stop what I did from getting out?"

    Bishop Jakes asked a really interesting question once at a conference. He talked about how Jim Bakker's ordeal happened so many years before it hit the news. He asked the audience, "Now…let me ask you this. When did Jim Bakker fall? Did he fall when it happened, or did he fall when you found out?" That was powerful to me because the years that followed the actual happening were some of the best years of his ministry–publicly.

    I thank God for this post of yours because it gets us to think about moral failure beyond the public implications, but to where it really matters. Walking the walk of holiness (not perfection) in our daily lives, in the private places and moments, where life really happens.

  • http://www.allnationsmobile.org Jim Mather

    Boundaries are good and wise. Knowing your heart is even better. Having lived for 5 years in a Muslim country I can tell you that boundaries are not a cure all for what ails the heart. If it did Saudi Arabia would be free of sin. It isn't.

  • http://mrclm.blogspot.com Chris Meirose

    Previously, I've always been part of a multi-staff church where as you mention, someone else was always there, and usually multiple someones. 15 months ago I became the solo/senior pastor of a small town church and my boundaries were radically changed. Gone were the days with present supervision and the backup of knowing someone else is there. So I do what I can – I counsel with my office door open so anyone who walks by our building can see into my office. The seats where other people sit are shielded, but you can see my chair and desk clearly from the door. I keep the shades on the windows open, and I always stay on my side of the desk. Having a physical barrier helps me with piece of mind, even though it obviously wouldn't stop anyone/anything. If it is someone (female) who just needs to talk, I'll ask if we can meet somewhere public – coffee shop or something and then we'll move over to a quiet corner. But that doesn't help with the drop in people. And it does nothing to guard against our part time secretary (female) and I being in the building alone – which means I keep the door between our offices closed anytime she's here and will usually walk "around" through the hallway to bring her things. But the reality is there are times where I will be 1-on-1 in the building with a woman. I try to stay open and honest with my wife, and I try to stay accountable to others, and beyond that I just have to deal with it, and have healthy personal boundaries where I'm willing to end meetings/sessions if something begins to get out of hand. I don't do a lot of in depth counseling (not my gifting – at ALL!), so I will refer onto professionals in the region the more intimate/deep problems.

  • http://www.carlthomas.net Carl Thomas

    I have the same rules about not being alone with a woman and agree with your points, but they are all easier to keep when you have a staff (which I don't). As the pastor of a young church I have had to modify the rules. And I have a few you don't list.

    If I were to find myself in a room alone in a work environment, I would open the door. No matter what the door is. If its the front door then that's what I do. If at all possible I won't be alone in a room. I don't counsel alone, and would not schedule a meeting alone. But if I was in a situation where I could not avoid, I wont be in a closed room alone. I leave the door open and call my wife (in front of the woman. Any person at any time can walk in on me. If my wife has a red flag I am out, I don't care how it looks.). I would then call my wife when I was done.

    It is also important to note that today, intimacy can be fostered through texting, email, IMing and facebook. These are less formal means of communication so it is easy to let your guard down. So I am careful to maintain a professional demeanor through electronic communication.

  • http://www.thekidpreacher.wordpress.com @billy_johnson

    By the way, I think it is fair to point out that WOMEN arent the enemy. Our own lust, and the appearance of evil to those around us is.

  • http://bit.ly/aboutchristina Christina

    I see your point if we are talking about men and women in authority positions. It's like some sort of "celebrity" syndrome.

  • http://forefrontchurch.tv Brett Crimmel

    Shaun,

    Great post – and much needed right now.

    At Forefront, I have a very specific rule for our entire staff. I didn't make it up, it comes directly from Billy "the" Graham:

    Any staff member is never to be alone with a member of the opposite sex that is not directly related to you (your wife, your daughter, your mother, your sister … you get the point). Last time I checked, it is impossible to have an affair if you follow that rule.

    We have had people inside and outside of Forefront already question that rule. What is interesting, however, is that when you take time to explain why the rule exists, we have found people accept it (they may not like it, but they certainly can understand).

    This means we don't have an office yet, because of the reasons you state (it would be me most of the time with female staff members or female volunteers … not acceptable). It means we spend 15 extra minutes riding with someone else to take the other person home after staff meeting. It means a lot of Starbucks meetings (or Panera, or lunch … or ANY public place). A lot of what we pass off as "we really need to meet in a private place" really isn't a need as much as a want.

    Above reproach. There is no short cuts with integrity. It isn't easy, but it's worth the good fight.

    Thanks for the post – appreciate you!

  • Betsy

    I used to be one of two interns for a male minister and he had the "never alone" rule. At 20, I honestly did not understand it because I was thinking "you have GOT to be kidding me." But if you're going to take a stand (and you should), you can't make exceptions on purpose.

    Considering how many admissions there have been in the news lately of extramarital affairs and how many stories are similar – "our families were close." "we worked together." – how can any woman deny this being a necessity for a godly man.

    Our culture has made this harder on women in some sense. It wasn't that long ago that it was widely considered inappropriate for a woman to be alone with a man who is not her husband or family. But in the days of women's lib, that has been pushed aside and those of us who grew up without that rule feel chastised when it is adhered to…but it's not about us.

    Sorry this isn't an easy one, but keep it up!

  • Stephanie

    My concern with your measure deals with counseling. Should you have a female member of your congregation with a very private moral issue, she cannot seek your spiritual guidance without including someone else. What if she does not want someone else to know about her private crisis or matter, she would have to opt out of meeting with you as her pastor. Whereas, the male members of your church can seek you privately. It’s like you are punishing a woman b/c of her gender. It’s a bit sexist.

  • http://www.carlthomas.net Carl Thomas

    sexist implies inferiority. Clearly that is not the case. I have a rule. If you want to talk alone, I will give you my wife's number. If you want to talk to me about a deeply personal matter, my wife will be there. I am not sure why a woman would think that only a man could counsel her.

  • Len

    It is great to hear you saying this very boldly and bluntly Valerie. I completely agree. These standards are not about comfort or likeability, they are about the ever present reality of the sin that lurks within us. Satan hates us all and wants to completely burn our lives to the ground and drive us to suicide. I am very tired of watching "open-minded" pastors (men and women) who don't want to make people feel uncomfortable inevitably winding up behind the microphone telling their congregations that they have "fallen into temptation and sin". Is the damage and wreckage strewn landscape not enough to wake us up to the reality that we have a real enemy who doesn't care about propriety and comfort? If we are all aligned against the enemy of the devil then we will all understand that all (yes ALL) of these horrible, marriage destroying, church destroying, family destroying situations have one thing in common: they began with two people alone somewhere!
    Satan hates you Pastor Shaun and wants to see you with your head hung in disgrace contemplating suicide. Put up with the ridicule, your wife, children and ministry are worth it.

  • Kem

    I can certainly understand all sides of this. The rule of not being alone with the opposite sex has been a rule at churches that I've attended in the past. I never really put much thought into it. It is 2009 and the devil is busy. I would personally look at this from both my late grandmother's perspective and Rai's perspective since they have the position of being the wives of ministers. I would rather that my husband not meet with women alone and that's not too say that I don't trust my "husband/minister", but we are all human and people sometimes have different motives. At the last church I was a member of in another state, this rule became effective after the fact…after a lady had accused the pastor of sexual misconduct when she came to him for counseling. I think this rule is a great idea!

  • Nikita

    Pastor Shaun – I applaud you for this honest discussion. I think it is important for people to understand and to remember that we all are compelled by the Bible as believers to "keep temptations at bay". I think it is a good decision to keep women involved in the church but it is also important to have limitations and to stress them to all involved. I note that a lot of women are taking this personally and stating that this idea is sexist. Women's lib or the idea that it is sexist does not trump the sin that the wo/men who are in these positions as Pastor's are attempting to divert. Sin is very REAL and has REAL consequences. Temptation will come when they (Pastor's) are tired, it will come when they feel attacked, temptation will be the attack on their marriage/family etc. Bringing a Pastor to his knees with any sin can seriously affect the folks he speaks the Word over and the damage can be immeasurable to those members. I pray that every Pastor -be they male or female- continues to walk in humility and prayer as it comes to this sin of lust and that they do all they can to keep this temptation at bay – even if some think that their actions are unfair.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/anivus anivus

    Shaun.. I have been around a lot of different leaders using different tactics to avoid moral failure… these outward drastic measures won't do anything if the leader allows crap into their heart / life. I think "rules" might be able to help – but I have also seen those that have "rules" break them and have an affair.

  • Stephanie

    Hi Carl!
    Sexist is not limited to inferiority, it also describes inequitable access to resources on the basis of gender. It's not about seeking counsel from a "man." It's about seeking counsel from your pastor. The female members of the congregation do not have the same access to counseling as the male members do b/c their pastor happens to be of the opposite sex. If the pastor's wife is also a pastor who has received training and is active in preaching, then it would be wonderful for her to be available for counseling. If she has not received training or counseling and wisdom are not her spiritual gifts, then I'm confused as to how a member of the congregation should feel comfortable seeking her for spiritual guidance.

    My doctor's wife my be a great woman with a lwealth of knowledge on medical issues, but I would much rather have my male doctor examine me rather than his wife. No offense to her. LOL. When someone is dealing with a serious issue, he/she wants to seek direction from the expert. At least, that's ideal.

  • Heidi

    Shaun… While I applaud your intention to avoid moral failure, I must say that your policy needs adjusting. In a world of jealousy, inuendo, fear, and civil suits, I would advise you to not meet with ANYONE alone. I was born and raised in the church and have many, many pastors in the family. And if I know anything it is this: pastor's are sought after, seduced, beguiled, and everything else not because just they are in a position of power but because in this day and time they are cash cows. Without another person present, you can potentially open yourself up to things worse than an affair, like a lawsuit. Civil cases filed and won everyday because leaders didn't protect themselves from all people, not just women.

  • http://www.gcsrw.org Diane

    Shaun,

    The fact that you are raising these questions is great!

    I think that you would find the following two sites very helpful as you adopt a policy for your church — because every church needs a system-wide policy in place to both prevent and respond to sexual harassment and misconduct.

    The first is http://www.umsexualethics.org

    The second is related (both are published by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women [a UMC global agency]): http://www.gcsrw.org/IfThisHappensToYou/Ididntmea

    I hope these resources give you (well-researched & church-tested) food for thought!

    Diane (from Candler :-))

  • D.C.

    As one of the young ladies stated earlier, the policy is fine if you have a well trained woman minister on hand. That way, you don't deprive the women members of adequate spiritual counseling. I know my pastor is too important to fall victim of a human frailty or become involved in some meritless controversy. As such, I would hope that he would take whatever safeguards are necessary. See Bro. Jamal Bryant for example :(

  • Colette Walker

    @ Brett: While you are correct, it is imposible to engage in sexual relations with another person if there's only one person in the room, please let's not make sex the sole definition and determining factor of if an affair occured. While sex plays a big part in male -female intimacy, it's not the ONLY way you can violate the covenant of marriage, and this violation starts LONG before any clothes come off or body parts touch. My understanding is that real change for any Christians begins on the INSIDE, and what takes place on the outside is just a reflection of that inside transformation. I agree there are no short-cuts with integrity. But covering yourself in post-its with integrous messages on them do not alter what's going on in the inside of a believer's heart and soul.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/LoudProtestant LoudProtestant

    I commend your effort to combat moral failure by any means necessary.

    I know you are a praying man. And as such, I have to believe that you must continually take this feeling that being alone with women will cause you to fall. I think, at this point, particularly because of your work in ministry, that you will have to pray for heavy discernment. That way, God will endow you with the ability to separate the women who are about His business and the one's who are just trying to be about yours.

    This is about discernment. Yes, it's true, you should never place yourself in the position where temptation might grab a hold of you, but also don't put yourself in the prison of doubting the power vested in you through God to help you withstand any temptation. Discernment will take you a long way in this and you'll soon be separting the wheat from the chaff. It might mean you have an all-male team but don't sell yourself short by continually speaking this fear out. God is in control of it all and as long as you continue to be lead by your spirit and not your flesh, it will be alright.

  • http://mommimusings.blogspot.com HappyWifeHappyLife

    Excellent post, Shaun, and some good thoughts. Sadly, I must agree with what one of your first commenters said… a lot of women are attracted to power and (obviously) to godly men, so I think you are wise to have very clear parameters set up for everyone's protection.
    We humans are still fleshly creatures…. all we have to do is read about King David to remind ourselves of that…. as much as he loved the Lord, he stumbled repeatedly.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Hey Christina!____Hope you are doing well. Thanks for your honest comment. What could a church do to display good practices, but not make people feel like they smell bad :-)____I hope you know me well enough to know that I don't view you (or women or myself) as sinful objects.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Thanks a ton for your raw and thoughtful insight Valerie. Means a lot to me. I will ask you what I asked others. What can I do and can our church do to make sure people don't feel devalued?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    I will use this Billy. The truth is that it is inavoidable in many ways, but a plan has to exist no matter what.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Very helpful Keith! We are going to work harder on the scheduling front and I think this will make it such that folk don't feel like heels or 2nd class citizens.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Thanks for your thoughts Shaun. I hope you are doing well bro. That story from Bishop Jakes will stick with me man.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Great wisdom Jim. The heart has to be right man. Thanks for this reminder. Any thoughts on how we keep a healthy heart?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks a ton for sharing your story. Brother I really do understand. Our church is small and has the same challenges. Count me as your friend in this endeavor for personal integrity. Keep pushing forward!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Thanks for sharing your tips and reality Carl. You are so right about how intimacy can be brought about with so many other tools man. I will take your tough advice and make it my own.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Hey Colette,

    Thanks for the reminder that our heart and soul should guide our choices. Help me understand how you think a church or pastor should best operate with the issues we are discussing.

    Blessings!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Thanks Betsy! Really helps to just hear what other people are thinking and experiencing with this issue. How could I make women still feel valued while maintaining personal boundaries? Seen good examples?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Thanks for the affirmation Kem!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Nikita,

    Thanks for your tough and honest perspective. How could I still have a real sense of courtesy with healthy boundaries?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Hey Stephanie,

    I actually agree with you. It is not fair to punish people because of gender (or race or anything else). I think that I will just have to find a way to advise women with the door open or something like that. How does that sound to you..honestly?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    I am considering your words carefully Heidi. How do you advise me to meet with people on personal issues though? Skype? Online? I have thought about those things.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Hey Diane!

    How are you? Thanks for these awesome links. I needed this. Anything particular you think I should see that will help us in our situation? How do my policies make you feel?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/shaunking shaunking

    Any advice on how we have boundaries without making people feel like 2nd class citizens?

  • Colette Walker

    One great way is doing exactly what you're doing here. Having a conversation about these issues. Not a one way, my way or the highway edict from Pastor on high! Sitting everyone down and explaining the policy to them doesn't mean you're going to change it, but it let's me know that you at least respect me enough to tell me why. You show you are at least open to hearing/understand other points of view. As someone who has been called by God to pray and intercede for leadership, Pastor's in particular, one of the 1st things that comes up while I am praying is the spirit of lust, and lots of sexual nastiness. These things start at the head, and trickle down, just like blesings and curses. They do not rise up from the congregation and meet the Pastor. I do understand how difficult it often is for Pastor's to talk to each other about these things but it is so very necessary. I also believe if more folks knew first-hand from their pastor the day-to-day struggles of his/her calling, the congregation would be a lot more appreciative of the lengths you as a Pastor are willing to take so that no sheep is ever lost or harmed.

  • http://www.imagebreakers.com PaulB Thomas

    I agree and well said. God put man with woman and they were 'alone.' The issue is respect for each other and righteouness before God. When that is in place you dont have to get all out of shape and make rules that foster fear, suspicion and silent disrespect. That in itself makes 'religion' and religiousness wrong! let's learn to appreciate a woman not be intimidated by her beauty. but rather celebrate them and be comfortable with them that's not a sin either, that's normal as a Christian. That's healthy and and that's correct. Youre right its a heart issue, not a woman/sex man issue.

    Paul.

  • http://mrclm.blogspot.com Chris Meirose

    The key is to be open and honest and live with integrity in all areas, not just this, but especially this. I also don't handle church money, and other things like that just to keep any of those temptations away. I don't struggle with them, but I don't want the opportunity for temptation as it only takes a split second lack of judgment and your ministry comes to a screeching halt. Too much at stake. Not that I think I am that important, but I want to be available to be used as God sees fit.

  • LaNeitria

    I have one thought……

    Have you considered having armor bearers? I know that right now, you may think that because you have a small ministry that you don't need them, but bless God, your ministry will not be small for long. Some people may not agree with the concept of "armor bearers", but if you could get you some honorable Christian men of integrity in your midst, this may help. They will be able to pray for you, which you'll need when you're weary. I know of a church where the pastor's armor bearers exercise their discernment and are constantly on the look out for those of the opposite sex who wanted to "endear" themselves to the pastor. The armor bearers made sure that the pastor wasn't accessible to such foolishness.

  • Stephanie

    Hi Pastor Shaun! (This is pg 1 of 2..my comments cont'd in next post)
    I actually have a set of procedures I have implemented at my job. I am a rather young female guidance counselor at a high school. The boys have tried hitting on me, which is hilarious, but a concern of mine. As a precaution, I have done the following:
    1. Yes, leave the door open.
    2. Informed someone of the meeting
    3. Requested a person to be in the vicinity who can walk by every 10-15 min to look in, like a witness.
    4. I take notes of the meeting detailing what was discussed and I keep it in a folder locked in a private area…sometimes I take notes during the meeting, if the student is comfortable. Most of the time, I take notes right after the meeting.
    You can ask your member if she would be comfortable with having a third party present, he/she might be. If so, you can have the third party sign a confidentiality contract in front of the member to show that you value his/her privacy.

  • Stephanie

    Hi Pastor Shaun! (continuation pg 2 of 2)

    If the member is not comfortable with the third party being present, you can implement the above procedures. You have a witness in the area who can visually see both you and your member before, throughout, and after the meeting. (Make sure to place the chairs in a way that the person who you have checking in can see both your and your clients faces). If you would like to set even more of a safeguard, have your appointed "witness" detail what he/she observed and keep that statement with your meeting notes.

    Like someone said in one of the postings, the precautions should be set in place for ALL your members. Don't assume that you're safe with a male member. You can stand to be accused of the same things a female member would accuse you of…
    My suggestions may seem like a lot of work, but it's worth protecting yourself while ensuring that ALL of your members have an opportunity to seek your counsel equally.

  • http://ihatechurch.com ihatechurch

    you lit it up on this one shuan :: good stance, good write and most importantly you have God on your side :: cheers

  • http://bit.ly/aboutchristina Christina

    Hey P. Shaun! I'm doing really good. Still trying to make my way to the ATL! Haha I def. don't think you think I'm smelly and I certainly see your heart to maintain the most godly boundaries for your ministry and that women are not sinful objects.

    I think the simplest thing a church can do is what you are doing…posting blogs like this, having talks, being clear and open with everyone about what you do and why. Having an open forum for people to freely talk about this stuff and be honest. That's awesome.

  • http://www.gladdentheheart.blogspot.com Charlotte

    Another good reason to have more women in ministry… I'd love to have a woman in my church who I can go to with theological and pastoral questions/issues. But I don't.

  • Nikita

    Hi Pastor Shaun,
    Talk honestly with your parishoners about your boundaries for you and your family. Speak firmly & respectfully to your congregation and staff, but make your boundaries absolutely CLEAR. Some women will try to circumvent them anyway, but reiterate your rules/consequences if you have them and stand by them REGARDLESS. Discuss/Pray for strength to resist this temptation and others with your church family so that they too so they will KNOW how serious you are about this issue. Your family comes First & Foremost. Sometimes speaking resolutely, respectfully and yet firmly is as courteous as you can get when the issue is this serious.

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