The senior pastor or administrator is not safe.
“How do I work with a senior pastor or administrator who is not safe?”
You have been hired to serve under, and support, this senior pastor or administrator. This doesn’t mean that you must agree with everything he stands for, but it does mean that you must be respectful while carefully expressing your own views.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” Matthew 18: 6, 7
A senior pastor or administrator who doesn’t take the safety of children seriously is probably uninformed. As the CM director or pastor, you must do all you can to protect the children and your CM team regardless of how the senior pastor or administrator views “safety.” You should be able to create and establish CM safety policies and procedures regardless of your senior pastor or administrator’s views.
The conflict may come when the senior pastor or administrator wants you to do something that you know may endanger the children, or that goes against one of your CM policies. If this happens, you must always stand firm to protect the children and your CM team. We are told in Romans 13:1 that “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities…” and yet when those “governing authorities” tell us to do something that we know goes against God’s decrees, we must honor God over man.
This is the challenge that Peter and John faced in Acts 4 when the rulers, elders, and scribes told them to not speak about Jesus. John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than God.” (Acts 4:19) Peter, John, and the Apostles then returned to proclaim Jesus and heal people in the streets. In Acts 5, they are arrested and put in jail. Then, during the night, the Lord freed them, and they returned to speak about Jesus in the streets. When they were brought back to the Sanhedrin and questioned, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). If you are faced with a “command” from the senior pastor or administrator that you feel would endanger the children, you must stand firm and say, “No.” If there is a meeting in his/her office to discuss the matter, you can take the opportunity to enlighten him/her about the danger.
The senior pastor or administrator may not realize that an accusation of abuse or neglect regarding the CM would involve him/her as well. Any legal issue regarding the safety of the children would “climb” up the corporate ladder all the way to the “top,” which would be him/her because he/she is ultimately responsible for the safety of the children. In the meeting, simply ask him/her if he/she is willing to carry the financial and legal weight of a public lawsuit regarding the safety of the children. Remind him/her that the local news sources or social media would also share the news story of a lawsuit over child endangerment at this church. These are harsh issues, but they need to be discussed openly and graphicly.
If, after being informed of the potential danger, the senior pastor or administrator still wants you to do something that you know could endanger the children or CM team, you are faced with a serious challenge. Do you obey him/her or do you resign? This decision requires consultation and prayer. Take a couple of days to ask close friends or fellow CM leaders what to do. Pray for God’s guidance. If you decide to leave your position, ask to speak to an elder or church board member to make sure that your side of the issue is heard. You don’t want the church leadership to wonder why you left. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen. Hopefully, your senior pastor or administrator builds a strong coalition among the church staff to protect the children and others in the church.