OK… you’ve heard me say it before. “I’ve never heard people complain about guard rails on the busy freeway or the mountain road. They do complain about speed-bumps…but not guard rails.” (Oops! I’ve said it again.)
Other colloquialisms also apply: “Don't shut the barn gate after the horse is gone.” “Too little, too late.” “Woulda, coulda, shoulda…”
The theme of this little conversation is protection. You don’t buy car insurance after the accident–you need the coverage in place before the event.
In the years of traversing this wonderful district, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been a part of the conversation in a local church where some good financial policies are being implemented (a cash handling policy, implementing double-signature checks, or bank reconciliation procedures, etc.) and dear Brother Jones who has faithfully served the Lord’s church for long years asks, “Why do we have to change these things? Don’t you trust me any more?”
The correct answer to that question is that it's not about "trust;" it's about "protection." (“Brother Jones, these policies are not because we don’t trust you, but because we love you and want to protect you and the church from any false accusations.”)
And so…at every Ordination interview, we ask such questions as, “Who speaks into your life?” “Does your spouse have access to your email and internet traffic patterns?” “What protective measures do you follow in ministry regarding contact with ministry team members of the opposite sex?”
Every year we ask the pastors of HM/DS churches that are under our care and responsibility, “What are the financial policies of the church?” “Who signs the checks?” “Do you screen all volunteer workers with children?” “Who reconciles the bank statement?”
At every District gathering we promote fellowship, contact, and everything that wars against our enemy known as isolation. We have plowed significant resources (and “change currency”) into the new small-group i-Connect groups of IDC… all to encourage fellowship (yes) as well as trusting relationships that move to more willing vulnerability, accountability, and care for one another.
We ask the questions. We make the resources available. We appear to be “selling a service” or “promoting a District plan.” We are really advocating protection. We keep asking the questions…
…and still we have “shipwrecks” along the pathway. Every year. In places we wouldn’t suspect.
I speak regularly with our former District leaders. Our two oldest living Superintendents still call me regularly and pray with me over the phone. It is strengthening to me.
Last week, one brother recalled…"I remember going home after a meeting that dealt with failure in a life…and sitting in the basement with all the lights off. All I could do was cry. My weeping was inconsolable at that moment. I could only grasp the thought, ‘It should not have happened.’”
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
I will not apologize for selling a little protection.