"we bear responsibility to support victims who are under our care, to handle instances of sexual abuse biblically and legally"

“As a university committed to Christlikeness, we bear responsibility to support victims who are under our care, to handle instances of sexual abuse biblically and legally, and to train our faculty, staff and students to better understand this issue and to respond appropriately…”
BJU Board Initiates Committee to Review Sexual Abuse Policy

1779 reads

There are 7 Comments

Joel Tetreau's picture

Thanks for the post. Thankful for Stephen and the rest of the BJ leadership's willingness to take a second look at the present policy. I'm grateful for the honesty and clarity, especially after the rather public and recent publications that has called into question BJ's approach and even motivation behind various policies.

By the way....and this is just a side note. For all parties involved in these rather loud "back and forths"....I want to add a thought or two if I may. BTW...these comments are not directed to any one person specifically but apply to anyone here in the SI readership that cares to think with me. So, I want to share a few thoughts/principles that can and should apply to a variety of discussions that we have here and elsewhere.

Here's my appeal : I would say there are occasions when an issue is significant enough that one is justified in making public statements. That's what true leadership has to do from time to time. True leadership must call into action that which needs to change, or improve. So I get that and on a principle level don't have an issue with that.

However.....I would encourage we who make those public statements (and I have participated in a variety of those discussions over the years) to be careful on two counts:

First, all things being equal, if we have any kind of a relationship with the ministry we are calling into question, we really should have a private conversation(s) with the brothers first (if at all possible) before we go public. Sometimes that will be very hard. We may not really want to have the private conversation. We might have our minds made up and are fearful to find out we were wrong. In some cases we may not trust the individual in question, and so we feel a discussion is useless. At any rate, let me repeat myself - if there is any kind of relationship that is worth saving at all, I still think that we ought to try to reach out to the individuals in question first. Why do I say that? While some of these conversations are not restricted to Math 18 and "Church Life" per se, a private conversations (at least in my view) honors the spirit of Math 18. 1 Cor 13 gives us a picture of what Biblical love is. I'll not argue the point - clearly sometimes the most loving thing to do is to publically "mark out" error. I get that - but what if a private conversation takes place first? In some sense this seems far more consistent with "hopes all things." In other words we assume the best of our brothers in question. We assume that they will care that a brother or sister in Christ trusts them enough to consider the careful appeal we make first.

Man....I have not always done this! To this day I wish I had done this in several episodes when I decided to put my battle gear on and go off to war. Some of the arrows I've shot in public dispute, I really should have just kept in the sheeth and had a private discussion first....but no....I was all excited about "the cause" and forgot about "the cost" of not being careful as to how and when to fight. What if they do nothing? You can at least know that as you make the public statements, a true attempt was made to make a difference privately first. By the way, I am sure that there have been individuals who have made effort in private, behind the scene before making public statements. I am also sure in some cases individuals do not make those attempts because previously those kinds of attempts were ignored or seemingly not taken serious. I understand all of that. However, I’m speaking about what I think is “generally” the best approach in these kind of discussions.

Second , all things being equal, you really cannot know motive. Unless you are God (and you are not) or unless you are an apostle or a prophet (again I would have doubt that you are either); you really do not, cannot and should not make absolute statements about motive. Is it appropriate for me to say I may disagree with so and so and their approach to such and such? Of course I can....especially when the ministry in question says that they are open to public review. Can I follow up with a statement that the reason they are doing or not doing "such in such" is because they could care less about these kinds of people? How do you do that? I mention this here in part because I can almost hear someone calling into question Stephen's motives here with this announcement. Please.....Stop it! Just take him at his word, people. You may not agree with every decision our brother has made, but he is clearly a man of integrity. He wants to review the policy to see if they missed something....perhaps it can be improved. Any of us who lead ministries understand the eternal job it is to make sure policy's are "up to date." Even important policy's such as Sexual abuse policy. To assume that a ministry doesn't care just because they want to review and possibly improve is unjust at best.

Now if you don't have a relationship, don't want a relationship.....I suppose one could just fire away! However.....even if you are dealing with a ministry you have no desire to have any level of koinonia.....2 Thessalonians would constrain us that even in a hostile conversation we at least remember and treat them as "brethren"....and not look at them as "the enemy!"

So there's my appeal, for what it's worth. I've wanted to say something like this for several years. These issues have been close to my heart for some time and I only share it now because it seems right to do so. Blessings on you all my brothers and sisters as we face a New Year in the corner of the Lord's Vineyard He's placed us in......May we be found faithful in the New Year.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Rev Karl's picture

Joel Tetreau wrote:
Man....I have not always done this! To this day I wish I had done this in several episodes when I decided to put my battle gear on and go off to war. Some of the arrows I've shot in public dispute, I really should have just kept in the sheeth and had a private discussion first....but no....I was all excitted about "the cause" and forgot about "the cost" of not being careful as to how and when to fight. What if they do nothing? You can at least know that as you make the public statements, a true attempt was made to make a difference privately first. By the way, I am sure that there have been individuals who have made effort in private, behind the scene before making public statements. I am also sure in some cases individuals do not make those attempts because previously those kinds of attempts were ignored or seemingly not taken serious. I understand all of that. However, I’m speaking about what I think is “generally” the best approach in these kind of discussions.

Pastor, your words shame me, and humble me. Thank you for sharing them.

The quote above reminds me of my adventure with my son Monday after Christmas. I took him out to shoot his Grampa's .22 rifle for the very first time. As we drove to the place where we were to shoot, I reviewed with him - over and over - the rules of shooting.

  • Never point the muzzle at anything you do not want to DESTROY;
  • MAKE SURE of your target (Is that really what you think it is?);
  • MAKE SURE of your background (If you miss, who else are you going to hurt?).

I need to pull this list out every time I start typing a post on SI.

May God bless us with a New Year filled with His joy!

JG's picture

And man, is he OPERATING! Smile

Thank you, Dr. Tetreau. Perhaps the best thing I've ever read from you, brother. Rest your fingers for a while, they've done several years worth of work in one little post.

I think we too often forget one of the lessons of Judges 20 -- when you go to war against a brother, it's likely to cost you dear, even if he's wrong.

Your emphasis on I Corinthians 13 is great. So is your comment about the spirit of Matthew 18. And the attribution of motives is something that is so rarely appropriate, and needs compelling evidence.

Blessings to you and yours, Joel. Have a great New Year.

Rob Fall's picture

reminds me of:

Targeting Land or ship based artillery: first shot short, second shot long, third shot on target.

Microsoft software: Ignore version 1.0 of anything out of Redmond, 3.0 works the best.

In BJ's case, their heart's in the right place, it just takes awhile for them to hit the bull's eye,

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Steve Newman's picture

It is easy for us to "take a shot" at the incomplete efforts (like the 1.0 analogy above) and not give credit for continuing work that, Lord willing, will produce a policy that is better thought out than before. Also, excellent work by Joel on thinking out loud on principles of making public statements. I have to admit that I don't have a lot of "public relationships" of which I can make statements on. I'll have to chew on that.
As a pastor, we are more in the "general practitioner" role than the "specialist" at times. SI frustrates me when a "general practitioner" makes statements. Often, they are drowned out by a chorus of "specialists". Not that I'm not grateful for help in refining of the thinking, but it comes off in some cases as condescending. Just remember, we all have "a lot of irons in the fire". Yes, we need refinement. But we're not coming to SI to get slammed.

Joel Tetreau's picture

Steve - great analogy on how pastor-elder-bishop's must be GP vs. Specialist. You capture well a frustration I've often had - that of how a few specialists who have never served as a GP or who have failed at serving as a GP can sometimes come off as "patronizing" if not "arrogant" towards we who serve as a GP. However we don't want to come off as equally "patronizing" or "arrogant" just because we think they are "patronizing" or "arrogant" (I know you'ld agree with that). So I think a good way to handle this is the following: 1) Listen to their thoughts working hard to understand what they say. 2) See if there are any worthwhile applications to their thoughts 3) If there are worthwhile aspects - glean those 4) Ignore the rest 5) Understand that to many specialist they are trying to make a difference and because some of them know they don't have what it takes to make it as a GP, or they have not been called to serve as an elder/bishop/pastor, they are trying to make a difference with the leaders (or believers or ministries) who might do well as a GP. Finally when a specialist oversteps his authorioty/bounds/whatever.....try to appreciate the good things and allow love to cover the rest. Try not to take it personal even if it looks like they meant it personal. You might even drop them a note to let them know you appreciate their concern or attempt to help you be as succesful in your roll. If you have a good enough friendship with the specialist in question you might do what I try to do......end the note by affirming their roll to the body of Christ. Some of them have sacrificed much to do what they do for the Lord and we should honor that sacrifice and service - even if they don't always handle that perfectly. Remember as a pastor the scriptures have a higher demand of patience and maturity than a specialist will have. Again.....for whatever that's worth. Shalom and Happy New Year Everyone!

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don't forget that every organization is lead by a person or group that is/are essentially general practitioner(s), and the people that they are leading include a number of specialists. This is true in an army, a corporation, or a church. This is reinforced by the Bible verses describing the offices and gifts of the different members. Pastors should not be discouraged by the fact that in most areas they are general practitioners -- their whole job is to really know the scriptures and lead the body, but in other areas they may only know a little bit and depend on others in their organization to know more and do things they can't or do not have the time to handle.

Obviously, those who are specialists should be dispensing their expertise and advice with the proper respect, but when it comes to people outside the organization's control, this won't always happen. Then I agree with Joel that a wise leader will understand what is being said, and listen to/use what is worthwhile, and simply ignore the rest. Most don't have a problem with this when it is in areas clearly outside their purview -- I've rarely found a pastor that what wouldn't listen to those under him who know computers, HVAC, etc., and understand they know more than he does and that he should listen.

The real conflict comes when it is in areas that seem to fall under the pastor's area of expertise -- spiritual aspects of the life and health of the body. This might mean knowing something about another ministry, or understanding principles that can guide the pastor's ministry (and this would include things like policies for abuse in the church). It's very easy in these type of circumstances for the leader(s) to feel their toes are being stepped on, but this type of thinking should be avoided as much as those under him should avoid any disrespect.

Leaders need to be big enough to know when they don't know something, and instead of being defensive, just admit it and be willing to learn. Those under such leaders will quickly come to respect them even more, when it is clear that their expertise is recognized and that the leader is wise enough to know when to use it and even depend on it. And while this won't happen with specialists outside an organization, a leader can still learn from them anyway without somehow feeling he is showing weakness by taking good advice from less-than-stellar sources.

Dave Barnhart