Sex Offenders and Church Attendance: Getting It Right

Today, more than ever, Churches need to be aware of who is coming onto their property, what they are doing, and where they are going. From groups that use or rent space from the Church, to those who want to attend Church services and events. The Church is or can be held legally liable for injuries that occur on its property, especially when it has the power to monitor the behavior in the first place. Members and non-members alike have good reason to believe that the Church, of all places, is a safe environment for their children. Concerning those who wish to attend Church events, the Church should have a plan for addressing the extent to which prior sex offenders, including those who have confessed to such acts regardless of a criminal conviction, should be allowed to attend Church functions.

More often than not, the Church has erred on the side or mercy – mercy toward the offender I should say, and largely ignored their responsibility to shepherd the flock by making sure that the most vulnerable are protected from harm. In that sense, mercy for the more helpless is ignored. So, I recommend that the Church consider a Conditional Attendance Agreement. Such an agreement will,among other things, provide for the prior sex offender to be chaperoned or “shadowed” while on Church property at all times; it will release the Church from liability as the Church, in exercising its duties, notifies members who need to know about the matter; it will impose a duty on the person to notify the Church of any further sexual abuse arrests, charges or convictions; and it will allow the Church to solely decide matters of attendance.

We have posted a sample Conditional Attendance Agreement on our website,, under the “Resources” tab. Other forms can be accessed there as well, free of charge.