Monterey Baptist Church
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Pastor Daryl L. Poe

"Recently, the Houston Chronicle ran a series of articles exposing, in painfully specific documentation, hundreds of sexual abusers who have worked within Southern Baptist churches over the last 20 years. This series of articles demonstrates clearly that our tradition is well past its own age of accountability. The vital question is what we as a religious community, faced with these sins, do next" (Russell D. Moore; President, Religious Liberty and Ethics Commission of SBC).
I speak to this issue from a unique perspective: as a retired Law Enforcement Officer and current pastor. A crucial issue that is often overlooked is the point of entry for the predators. Sexual predators see churches as soft targets.  Pastors must guard the flock at all times. But this responsibility is not the pastor's alone.  We train our staff in Sexual Abuse Awareness. It opens additional eyes and put them on guard as well.  As an antonymous body, the responsibility rest with each and every member. 
Predators have seized upon our evangelistic zeal and invitations to gain access to the flock. Quick baptisms and full rights and privileges of church fellowship has replaced examination of fruits of repentance. In our concern for numbers, our gatekeepers are guarding the wide gate rather than the narrow.  .Most SBC churches have an "open invitation" when it comes to church membership. Sinners simply walk the aisle and shake a preacher's hand. Their decision to accept Christ is announced and their request to unite with the body is voted on. They are baptized as soon as possible and granted all rights and privileges of full membership.   In reality, most new converts don't have any idea what Baptist believe, and we know very little about them and their beliefs.
Taking seriously our call as shepherd and gatekeeper requires constant reevaluation of our operations and practices. To help strengthen meaningful membership and to add an additional layer of protection, we now require an assimilation class for anyone requesting membership.  This class includes not only Baptist doctrine, but our covenant, constitution, and by-laws. Our governing documents include statements regarding sex, gender, and a marriage policy. We also have a very specific Registered Sex Offender policy. Everyone seeking membership is run through our State Registered Sex Offender Registry(which is public information).
We have implemented numerous policies and security measures to limit exposure as best we can, however, so many predators have no past criminal history. Turning a blind eye only creates future victims. All accusations of abuse will be reported to law enforcement to fully investigate. We will work closely in supporting law enforcement in the criminal prosecution of any crime.  We follow Paul's call to expose evil to the light. Predators operate in secrecy and love to cause fear.  We are committed to confront and communicate openly within the staff and congregation.  
Likewise we will share information with other churches. We will never knowingly pass an abuser to another church. We will refuse membership to a registered sex offender if they refuse to conform to limitations of participation.  Their unwillingness to comply with the authority of the church is evidence that Jesus is not their Lord.  I invite you to review our Registered Sex Offender Policy.
Strengthening church membership means acknowledging that regeneration is evidenced by repentance. Church membership that matters is strengthened with Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It requires accountability within the body of Christ with church discipline.
We will not be a soft target for predators.  The beauty of a strong biblical faith is that it demands we harden the target without hardening our hearts.

Pastor Daryl L. Poe