Late in April, a group of 23 Safe Church Chairpersons, Advocates, and Advisory Board Members gathered to spend a weekend discussing Safe Church Ministry. We asked the questions, "What makes a church truly safe? What characteristics are true for a safe church?" We worked together to create one list from everyone’s responses; then we voted on the top four. Here they are:
1. Every church has a written safety policy in place which includes:
- Screening by all staff and volunteers - background check and references.
- All staff and volunteers aware of, committed to, and regularly trained in using the policy.
- Accountability procedures and consequences for those who do not follow the policy.
- A system for regular review of the policy.
2. Every church has protocols in place for responding to misconduct by a church leader which are strictly followed.
3. Issues of abuse can be freely discussed; this includes:
- Acknowledgement that abuse happens, and involves church members either in or outside of church.
- Disclosure of abuse to church leaders is met with compassion and support for those who have been victimized.
- An understanding of the nature of abuse; attitudes of manipulation, minimization and entitlement in offending and the long term, grievous impacts for those who have been victimized.
4. Leadership at all levels is committed to the importance of Safe Church Ministry.
How many of these Safe Church characteristics are present in your church today? Which ones are you currently working on?
Please share your challenges and your successes with us. We’ve got work ahead of us and we can get there together!