The #MeToo Movement will be one of the historic markers of 2018. Its impact is felt in the entertainment industry, in politics, in businesses and, undoubtedly, in churches. While we have yet to understand fully the impact in local churches, we can anticipate changes that will come.
Here are five ways the #MeToo movement will likely impact churches.
1. More churches will adopt the Billy Graham rule. The Billy Graham rule, at its essence, says a person should not be alone with a person of the opposite gender if that person is not your spouse. This practice, disparaged and ridiculed by many as archaic, legalistic, and unfair, could have saved a lot of heartache if it had been embraced earlier. It will bring changes in counseling, travel, and meetings.
2. More churches will add #MeToo questions for background checks. There are already a number of background checks done on prospective pastors and church staff. Background checks for credit, legal, and social media are now common. It will likely be common for churches to ask prospective pastors and staff if there is anything in their history that could bring shame to the person and the church.
3. Smaller churches will make changes to make sure two people are not alone in the church office. It is not uncommon in many smaller churches to have only two people in the office, commonly the pastor and an assistant. Likewise, it is common for those two people to be of the opposite gender. Anticipate an acceleration of the trend toward virtual assistants, even (or perhaps especially) in smaller churches.
4. Travel habits will change for church staff and church members. The Billy Graham rule precludes a male and female traveling alone, even for short distances. Many churches will adopt such a policy. It will likely mean some churches will have to change their travel practices significantly.
5. There will be a heightened sensitivity to the problems that precipitated the #MeToo Movement. The world has changed as a result of the #MeToo Movement. Churches are part of that change. Not only will practices change in the church, but language and attitudes will change as well. Hopefully, the changes will move toward that of honoring the women who work and minister in churches and demonstrating a more Christ-like attitude in all that we do.
I have practiced the Billy Graham rule in my life. It has been a policy of the organization I lead for years. The #MeToo Movement is a reminder that the late evangelist got it right. When it is all said and done, anything we can do to show greater respect and honor to girls and women can only be good.