Earlier this week, I spent two morning doing some training that is mandated by the Conference.  Every four years, I have to go through Boundaries and Diversity training, and now was the time.  So, I drove up to the big city of Kokomo, IN.

The first day was Boundaries Training.  We talked a lot about what you should and should not do in given situations.  Unfortunately, like with most things, there’s not a set list of “Do’s and Do Not’s” for clergy to follow.  So, some things that some pastors wouldn’t think twice about are things that other pastors wouldn’t have a problem doing in the context of ministry.  As you can imagine, this leads to a lot of ambiguity in some situations.  One thing that was point out, and really stuck with me, is that the majority of the boundaries violations are not intentional, just a result of cluelessness.  More on that in a minute.

The second day was Diversity Training.  The purpose of this training is to get us to think about the fact that not everybody is “like me.”  We talked a lot about different groups of individuals: males, females, white, black, Asian, LBGT, Native American, those affected by disabilities, etc.  We talked about perceptions that we have heard, and how to engage people in dialog.

First off, let me say, I’m not a fan of mandatory training.  You stick the word “mandatory” in there, and I’m immediately turned off and look for something else to be excited about… which usually isn’t difficult.  Now, with that said, these training sessions were not as horrible as I was expecting.  Don’t read that to say, “I really enjoyed them and they were well worth two days of my week.”  Because that’s not what I’m saying.  I’m also not complaining about it.  I understand that this training is necessary from a liability standpoint for the Conference.  But, what I am saying, is that if it has to be mandatory, it could have been a lot worse.

But here’s the thing.  So much of what we heard sounds like common sense to me.  You mean, as a married male pastor, I shouldn’t put myself in a situation with a female that could be perceived improperly?  No kidding.  You mean, I shouldn’t go inside the house of a woman whose husband is not home?  Really.  You mean, I shouldn’t discriminate against somebody because of their color, ethnicity, economic status or other factor?  Gee, I never would have thought of that.

But, here’s the kicker: if this wasn’t an issue in the past, it wouldn’t be an issue now.  You don’t try to prevent something that has never happened.  And that’s the sad thing.  We talk about these issues because there are things going on that shouldn’t be going on in society in general, but particularly when it comes to the clergy.  Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.  Common sense is not as common as people would like to think.