Coastal Church was known to welcome broken people. With about 75 members, this small Boston-area congregation offered Divorce Care and Celebrate Recovery groups. One of the people who started attending was a convicted sex offender who had been released from prison after serving a 17-year sentence for the rape of his 8-year-old daughter. While incarcerated, this man had committed his life to Christ. He had even earned a seminary degree online. People in the prison system affirmed the changes in his life.
Although several other churches in the area turned this man away, Don Bryant, then pastor of Coastal Church, and others within the congregation did not feel they could look him in the eye and deny his request. "In my 30-plus years as a minister, I have never asked someone to leave the church because their redemptive process was too messy," says Bryant. "I met with the parents of our church to get their input. Although there was some uneasiness about letting him attend, our mindset as a church ...1