If I knew that one hundred abusive people showed up at our church on a Sunday, I would say, “I’m happy you’re here. This is a Christian church where sinners are welcome. In Jesus’ day, the worst people in town were tax collectors and prostitutes, but Jesus called them to follow him. We want to be like Jesus, so you are welcome to follow Jesus here too.”
And then, with all the compassion in my heart, I would continue: “And we welcome you with wisdom. We don’t tempt alcoholics by having them buy the wine for Lord’s Supper. And we don’t let abusive people alone in situations where abuse can happen. So, yes, we require background checks for our children’s ministry. Yes, we will communicate with parole officers and craft a personal plan that meets and, perhaps, exceeds the requirements of the law. Because we care about you and about everyone else.”
I’m not sure how that message would be received, but I know what the Bible says about those who are truly repentant: “See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done” (2 Corinthians 7:11). People who are truly sorry will take steps to prove it, submitting to the leadership of the church.
If you have a history of abusive behavior and want to change, go to church. Even if there are consequences for your past, a Christian church can help you walk with Jesus for your eternal future.