Black and white Sound Cloud icon Black and white YouTube icon Black and white LinkedIn icon Black and white Facebook icon

Keeping the Door

Guarding the Lambs

The keys in the lock of the door on the outside safety locked doors security privacy
An article in the series Protecting Our Children, based on the training module “Protecting Children from Abuse v4”[1]


“Are our children safe?” That is the question many parents have when they leave their sons and daughters in the care of others. For a single parent, this can be the question almost anywhere they are if the other parent poses a likely threat of violence, abuse, or abduction. What threats do children face when in our church? How can we lessen these threats?

From the Bible

Then said Jesus unto them again, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep ... I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:7, 11).
*Note: Jesus claimed to be the door and the shepherd of the sheep.

And David said unto Saul, “Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, [or] a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him” (1 Samuel 17:34-35)
*Note: David actively protected his father’s sheep from attacks. Church leaders are the shepherds (pastors) of the Heavenly Father’s flock, and we are the sheepdogs.

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, “Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezekiel 34:2).
*Note: God expects the shepherds of His people to care for them, not to exploit them.

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 4).
*Note: Predators try to sneak in.


Safety teams are sheepdogs working with the shepherds (pastors) in protecting those under their care, especially the lambs and the infirm. They work together in planning and executing this protection. The resulting policies and procedures should reduce or eliminate the chances of sexual abuse, physical abuse, unhealthful conditions, and abductions.

In the News

Narrows, Virginia, May 3, 2021 - A woman tried to abduct a child from a church in Narrows. She went to the child care department and said that "Larry" was sick and she was there to take his son home. The attendant said she didn't know who Larry was and asked who the child was. The woman gave a made-up name, and the attendant said there was no child there by that name. The woman then went to a church across the street. She tried the same act and again failed.[2]
* Note: In these two churches, alert childcare attendants kept children from being kidnapped.

Miami-Dade County, Florida, November 16, 2021 - A youth leader and church trustee was arrested for sexual abuse of a 17-year old boy. According to the prosecutor, the suspect had groomed the boy for several months before the actual abuse. He hired the boy to work in his greenhouse. It was there the molestation took place.

Unfortunately, a warning was not heeded. Several months before this abuse, the church received a letter from the parents of another boy. They were concerned by the kind of contact the man had with their son. The pastor did not suspend the youth leader because he denied the accusation. Since his arrest, more victims have come forward.[3][4]

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, May 2018 - A pastor of a church in Camp Hill resigned after his past was brought to light. Eighteen years earlier he had been convicted of sexual abuse of a minor when he was the principal and teacher at a school. He lost his teaching license and had to resign his positions in a church.

He later moved to Camp Hill and attended church there. No one knew of his past. The senior pastor found out that another preacher was in his congregation. The new member soon became one of the pastors, eventually heading the church's day school. He had been hired without a background check.

Eventually, some members of the congregation found out about the conviction. After resigning, the convicted sex offender preached at other churches.[5]

Featured Resources

This month's featured resources are a Church Security Guide article ("Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults"), a free download (A Code to Live By), a Safety Member Certification training module ("Protecting Children from Abuse v4"), and an affiliate resource organization (Protect My Ministry).

Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults

Reading the article "Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults" in the Church Security Guide should be the first step in learning about protecting children from abuse. It provides a deep overview of the subject, preparing the reader for more detail in the training module. The outline is:

A Code to Live By: Childcare Code of Conduct

This month's free downloadable resource is a form for anyone in the church working with children and youth - pastors, too - to read and sign. Click *HERE* to get it. The signed copies will be kept on file. The "Childcare Code of Conduct" is a pledge to treat children (and youth) with respect, not causing them harm, and protecting them from abuse. The Code begins with:

Protecting Children from Abuse v4

The Safety Member Certification program has seven training modules (courses), including "Protecting Children from Abuse v4." Safety teams are encouraged to have all their members trained and certified. Those who pass all the courses and the certification tests will be certified for two years as Safety Members. Training is available for classrooms (with training materials and guides), individual online study, and live online Zoom classes.

Training and following set policies and procedures is a legitimate way of avoiding criminal and civil legal liability. In particular, "Protecting Children from Abuse," would be beneficial to elders and pastors, since they are the ones who approve policies, especially the ones that guide staff and volunteers who work with children and are not members of the Church Safety Ministry.[1]

Protect My Ministry

A key policy in child protection is screening candidates for every position in the church that leads to contact with children. This is especially true for pastors, youth leaders, children's ministry leaders, childcare workers, and teachers. What the church can do is good to a point, but many times someone slips through the cracks because the church did not have the needed resources for a thorough screening. Just being a larger church does not significantly improve your chances either, because now you have more persons to check on and keep track of.

Help in screening is available through Protect My Ministry. This organization does thorough background checks. Not only that, they can continuously monitor legal activity for any new data on your workers, verifying whether it is your staff member, pastor, or volunteer in the reports.

Your church can sign up with Protect My Ministry as a Sheepdog Church Security affiliate.[8]

Caring for the Lambs

In the Old Testament, we see that a good shepherd cares for the flock, especially the lambs.

"Tend My Sheep"

Peter told elders and pastors to "Feed the flock of God" (1 Pet. 5:2, KJV). Actually, in this verse, the word for "feed" is translated "tend" in many translations (such as the New King James) and "shepherd" in others (such as the English Standard Version). It literally means, "be a shepherd." In John 21:16 this same word is used by Jesus while he uses the word for "feed" in verses 15 and 17. More than feeding, this also means leading, caring for, and protecting the sheep, including the lambs.

The Shepherd as a Door

In John 10, Jesus said that he was the door of the sheep. He also referred to the door as the only legitimate way to get into the fold. His listeners knew what he was talking about, but that's not obvious to us today.

Predators, such as wolves, bears, and lions first go for the easy pickings: the old, the lame, and the lambs. When David told King Saul he could face Goliath without the heavy armor, he cited his experience rescuing lambs from lions and bears. To these natural threats, you can add thieves. Jesus spoke of them.

Sheep crop the vegetation close to the ground, so a shepherd has to constantly move the flock to good pastures, giving the previous fields time to regrow. This means that most of the time flocks were too far to bring them in for the night in the home fold just outside the village walls.

Caves were (and are) common in the hills of Israel and Judah, so a shepherd would herd his sheep into a cave at night. A wall of stones narrowed the opening to just wide enough for the sheep to enter single-file. The shepherd had to stoop to go in himself. This made the cave easy to defend. During the night, the shepherd and his dogs slept just inside the opening, ready to repel any intruder, animal or human. When there was more than one shepherd, they took turns keeping watch.[9][10][11][12]

Guarding the Lambs Today

Now we're not talking about wooly animals, but people. The lambs are our children and the yearlings are our youth. The children are obviously too small and weak to defend themselves. The youth are largely naïve, immature, or emotionally insecure. This makes children and youth easy prey for sexual predators, those who have learned how to influence and manipulate others.

Consider your church as a fold. It should be a place of safety for the sheep, the yearlings, and the lambs. How do we keep the predators out?

The Narrow Gate

The door to a fold, whether a wall or a cave, was narrow. The shepherd could count the sheep when they entered and went out. He controlled who came in and who didn't.

In a church, the narrow gate is the application and screening process. Everyone who works regularly in the church should fill out an application form that includes experience, former churches, personal and professional references, and any legal issues. Those with access to children and youth should not have a record of sexual indiscretions or any other moral issues. The addictive nature of this behavior means that it can always be a concern.

An application is followed by a background check, reference checks, and interviews. The applicant has to be truthful, with no tactical omissions, and not evasive. If the church uses a verification and background check service, such as Protect My Ministry,[8] the Office Administrator, Safety Director, or whoever else manages the application process, can converse with people in previous churches, neighborhoods, and places of employment to get a better feel of the applicant's character. This person should be alert to potential red flags.

The Watchful Eye

Be open to what information comes your way. Anything causing concern needs to be checked out. Imagine how embarrassing it is right now for the pastor of the church in Homestead, Florida, to find out that the youth leader is indeed a sexual offender.[4]

Have the courage to inactivate a child/youth worker who is suspected of abuse while the matter is investigated. The investigation can be confidential in case the worker is innocent. According to the mandatory reporting laws in most states, the church leader who received that letter should have taken it to the authorities so they could perform their own investigation. They have more resources than the church.

Since we are all human, as sheepdogs we watch each other, and even watch the shepherds (pastors). Jude warned his readers that "certain men crept in unawares" (Jude v. 4).There are many news stories of pastors who were predators. Some of these may have thought they had victory over a problem, but fell again to the same temptation. Others covered their tracks and moved on to other folds. Often pastors don't have the courage to confront or report other pastors.

Engagement with the Shepherds

As a Church Safety Ministry, we do not have complete control over child care and youth activities in the church. However, we can work with the shepherds (church leaders) in developing policies and procedures to guard against abuse. We can check to see that these are followed and help staff and volunteers understand the procedures (such as the "Rule of Two" and checking children in and out).


For thousands of years, sheepdogs have been guardians of the flock. Our duty is to do what we can to protect the lambs (children) and the yearlings (youths) of the flock from abuse.

There Is More

The other two articles in this three-part series are "Wolves and Lambs" (Threats to Our Children) and "Screening Help" (Protect My Ministry).


  1. Kris Moloney, "Protecting Children from Abuse v4," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [].
  2. Associated Press writers, "Authorities: Woman arrested for abducting 2-year-old from Virginia church misled investigators," WTVR, May 29, 2021 [].
  3. Amy Viteri and Andrea Torres, "Detectives suspect church youth leader accused of sexually abusing teen had more victims,", November 19, 2021 [].
  4. SDNL reports, "Homestead Businessman Charged with Molestation," South Dade News Leader, December 10, 2021 [].
  5. Tricia L. Nadolny, "‘The tongue is a fire': Southern Baptist church fractures over secrets and spiritual abuse," USA Today, February 12, 2020, Updated February 13, 2020 [].
  6. Kris Moloney, "Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [].
  7. Kris Moloney, "A Code to Live By," Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2018 [].
  8. Sheepdog Church Security sign-up link, Protect My Ministry, 2021 [].
  9. Fred H. Wight, "Excerpts from Manners and Customs of Bible Lands," Ancient Hebrew Research Center, no date [].
  10. Dwight Longenecker, "The Bethlehem Shepherds Were Not Just Country Bumpkins," Patheos, December 21, 2018 [].
  11. R. C. Sproul, "The Door to the Sheepfold," Ligonier Ministries, February 22, 2016 [].
  12. Several commentators consider Goodness and Mercy in Psalm 23:6 to be the Shepherd's sheepdogs:
    1. Max Lucado [],
    2. Chuck Swindoll [],
    3. Andrew Kerr [], and
    4. Elmer Towns [].