Lise, writing in TWW in a firsthand account of an abuse situation handled very badly at Providence Baptist Church, makes a very salient point:
People called Doug Goodrich a wolf in sheep’s clothing, I call the Pastors who knew and did nothing the shitty shepherds who let the wolf in.
Everyone should read Lise’s story. Sadly, her account underscores some key points I have made from here on many occasions:
(1) Pedophiles and molesters will flock to churches for the same reason (that’s where the kids are) that armed robbers hit banks (that’s where the money is).
If your church has a substantial children’s and/or youth ministry, you should expect that someone who is sexually-attracted to kids or teens will be trying to get a foot in the door. Don’t ever think that because (a) your children’s minister is a respected seminary graduate, or (b) you run background checks on everyone, or (c) that your people are of sterling character, that “that would never happen here.”
(2) Pedophiles generally don’t look evil or creepy. In fact, they are often the most trusted people you’ll meet. They will be “cool”, they will have charisma, they will be good with people, they will often be married and have kids.
When someone accuses them of wrongdoing, you won’t want to believe it!
(3) But what YOU do when an accusation is made is the difference.
Are you going to dismiss the accusations and even malign the accusers?
Are you going to “do your own investigation”, and intimidate the accusers into recanting?
Are you going to ignore the accusation altogether?
Or are you going to report the matter to law enforcement and allow them to investigate?
At Providence Baptist Church, leaders allowed Goodrich to skate: they dismissed and maligned accusers, they ignored obvious red flags, they even tried to cover up the truth when it became crystal clear that Goodrich was very guilty of heinous abuses.
Even worse, the pastor showed no sense of gravity of the situation. While I get that he was on sabbatical, there comes a point when one must show up for battle–ready to “bring it”–when a wolf shows up.
It’s time to say to Hell with the vacation. If you don’t understand that, then you aren’t worthy to be the shepherd.
In the case of Providence Baptist Church, it wasn’t about David Goodrich, who was a wolf in sheep’s clothing; it was about, as Lise puts it, the “shitty shepherds” who gave him an executive pass.