By Thom Rainer
The recent articles from the Houston Chronicle about sex abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) are convicting to me. What can I and others do better to prevent such abuse? How can we better serve, help, and show compassion to the victims?
I know many of you readers are not a part of the SBC, but please allow me to have this “family” conversation. It is too great of an issue to treat lightly.
One of the issues we have in SBC life is how we license and ordain pastors and staff. Each local church has the authority to ordain and license people because of our belief in the autonomy of the local church. In many cases, because our ordination process is so weak, we “bless” new pastoral candidates who may not be ready for ministry at the least, and who are sexual predators at worst.
Here are some of my thoughts on how we ordain, and how we could do so differently, particularly to protect our churches from predators and others who are not fit for vocational ministry.
Solving the ordination problem alone will not solve the sexual abuse problem. But it’s a start. Many predators in the pulpits and on church staff got there because we did not ask the right questions nor put them through thorough screening processes.
It’s time to change.
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on Feb. 16. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and ten grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.