“We are all family here,” was a common refrain I heard when my church implemented its new check-in system. Since I was the new guy in town, the next comment usually went something like this, “We get that you don’t know anybody, but we do; all this security stuff isn’t really necessary. So, you’re going to stop it once you learn everyone’s name, right?” Not quite. At FBCE, we continue to strengthen our security and safety measures precisely because we do know everyone. And it ain’t good. Look what Paul says about our family, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:12).
We Are All Bad
Although media moguls of Nickelodeon, Oprah, and Disney teach us that people are basically good, the Bible does the opposite. According to scripture, every baby is born a sinner (Ps. 51:5). Every baby is born with a disposition to do evil and to always do evil (Rom. 3:23). When left alone, people naturally make bad, selfish choices that hurt harm others (Gen. 6:5). The Biblical view of humanity teaches us to adopt a healthy skepticism of people’s intentions especially when protecting children.
We Got Tricked
Now thankfully when it comes to kids at church, many of the sinners who walk through our doors have been transformed by the gospel. But can you tell which men and women love Jesus and which ones want to groom a 12 year-old boy to be their spouse? In time yes, we can spot the frauds. People will be known by their fruit (Matt. 7:16). Their works, actions, and words will eventually reveal what’s going on in their hearts. But how long will this process take? How long will it take us to spot the false Christians? After all, false Christians were able to fool the disciples and the early church fathers because Jesus allows the weeds to grow right next to the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30). Liars, unrepentant sinners, are in our churches and bent on harm. Are we willing to give them the chance to hurt our kids while we sift through the evidence?
The Sad Reality
And false Christians continue to successfully infiltrate our Christian circles. Just in my own circle, I can think of two tragic deceptions relating to kids ministry (not to mention the sad stories of pastors, elders, and church members falling into all kinds of sexual and financial sins). First, I played football with kids whose parents seemed to be model Christians. The parents had good jobs, dressed well, and even had regular family devotions with the large family. But when the Bible was closed and no one was looking, the father sexual abused his children for over twenty years. No one at their church knew or suspected anything. Second, I think back to my youth group days. One of the most faithful small group, and mission trip leaders cheated on his spouse the entire time he served. Lacking tattoos and a scary drug filled past, he dressed, and talked like all the other adults, and, yet harbored a deadly secret sin. If we are truthful, we have to admit that we don’t know what’s in a person’s heart. As Jeremiah writes
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it (17:9)?
We need to put up hedges around our children to protect them from false Christians intent on harming God’s church.
Yep, We Still Got Problems
And lastly, we need to protect kids from ourselves. Though we are redeemed, we are not perfect; we still sin; we still face all kinds of temptations from the world, our heart, and Satan. Even the apostle Paul lamented, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 7:18-19). We need to be skeptical of our own ability to consistently avoid evil and to follow Jesus. If you doubt me, think back to Noah who got drunk, Abraham who slept with a family employee, and David who had an affair with the girl next before killing her husband. These were all great men of God who succumbed to sin. To love our brothers and sisters in Christ and to care for our own souls, we need to keep ourselves out of bad situations. We need to create policies and checks that will prevent even the most mature Christian from having a chance to molest a 5 year-old girl. Nothing is more loving and representative of the people of God than keeping a brother and sister from sin and a child from harm.
Regardless of blood lines and geographical proximity, we don’t know people all that well. And what we do know about them from scriptures, screams, “Don’t trust them. Don’t trust yourself.” We called to treat sinners with skepticism and believers with caution when it comes to caring for kids at church. We live in a world tainted with sin. To pretend that we don’t isn’t loving; it is ridiculously dangerous and may expose our kids to all kinds of horrors.