What's good to know for a Safe Church Team Member: If you’ve wondered where to start, or where to go to learn more, this article is for you.
Safe Church Ministry envisions trained safe church team members in every congregation, and well-functioning safe church teams in every classis. This has been the goal since the ministry began in 1994 and our progress seems a bit underwhelming. Safe Church employs 1.5 staff members, therefore it is imperative that we equip volunteer safe church team members in congregations and classes throughout the denomination to prevent and respond to abuse.
We have come to use the words “safe church team member” rather loosely. We follow Jesus, who said in Mark 9:40, “whoever is not against us is for us.” So, when we find someone with passion for this ministry, active in his or her own congregation or classis, we’re quick to label them a “team member.” Join our team! Help us assist the CRC in abuse awareness, prevention, and response.
In our database we recognize team members who serve at the “church” level and at the “classis” level. Most of those on the classis level have had safe church training, and some have had a lot of training. They are a wonderful resource in their classis and can assist in providing necessary training to other team members and to congregations in the classis. Ideally each classis would have a safe church team that can coordinate and support the work of safe church ministry in the classis.
When someone wants to become involved in safe church ministry, training can become an issue. Our small staff isn’t always available for training throughout the U.S. and Canada; and volunteer team members are busy (they have other jobs, families, etc). Over half the classes have no safe church team.
One way we offer training is through our online resources. Perhaps you don’t know about them. Maybe you don’t know where to begin (there are a lot of resources!). Whether you are a new or seasoned safe church team member, the following resources can help equip you for your work. Webinars are an easy way to learn something in less than an hour. PowerPoint presentations include notes, and can be used “as is” or changed and adapted to your ministry needs. These resources can be used individually or with others (team meetings or training ministry leaders). What’s most important for safe church team members to know? Let me suggest the following:
First it’s good to get an overall picture of Safe Church Ministry and how it works, a big picture perspective:
60 min. Webinar - The What Why and How of Safe Church Ministry
PowerPoint presentation with notes - Safe Church Overview
PowerPoint presentation with notes - Maintaining a Safe Church: Getting Started with Safe Church Policies
Then it’s good to understand something about child sexual abuse. Children are very vulnerable and must be protected:
60 min. Webinar - The Church’s Role in Ending Child Sexual Abuse
Bulletin Insert - God Hears their Cries, Do We?
We must respond appropriately to church leader misconduct, which is especially devastating. Prevention efforts and our response are critically important.
60 min. Webinar - Healthy Boundaries in Ministry Relationships
Bulletin Insert - Is it Abuse?
Advisory Panel Process Flow Chart (Special training is required to serve on an Advisory Panel; contact Safe Church for details)
Domestic Abuse is a prevalent and dangerous problem. The harm is very real, and we can cause additional harm by not understanding the dynamics involved:
60 min. Webinar - Domestic Violence and the Role of the Church
Bulletin Insert - Domestic Abuse
And don’t forget to take some time to imagine with the Lord what safe church ministry could look like in your congregation and classis. It’s not the same in every place. Prayerfully consider what your role might be. What is the next step? Perhaps it’s contacting another safe church team member in your classis, or some people with similar interests in your congregation. Maybe it’s time to meet with your pastor or council to share some of what you’ve learned. And please don’t hesitate to contact Bonnie Nicholas, director, or Eric Kas, associate, for more information.