Not everything is as it appears. On the first Good Friday, a heart-breaking realization dawned on the disciples. They had spent the last 3 years following a man they believed to be the Messiah, only to see him handed over and crucified. Their dream was over. Then came his resurrection, then the Holy Spirit! Everything changed; it was not as it appeared. We see it here in Michigan and many places as seasons change. Lifeless bulbs lay in frozen ground. Then spring comes, voila flowers! Things were not dead as they appeared. There is a lesson here for us as we look at our churches, our denomination, and Safe Church Ministry.
We may look at the denomination and see a restructuring nightmare. It appears chaotic, who can understand it? We may look at a diagram in the Synod Agenda (pp.378 & 379) where it appears that Safe Church has been greatly diminished and is no longer one of the specialized ministries. Remember, things are not as they appear. If you look at the chart on pp. 369-371; you will see that Safe Church is one of the specialized ministries after all. You can read the Safe Church Ministry annual report on p. 235-237. In fact, Safe Church Ministry functions day to day as its own specialized ministry, with its own director, Advisory Committee, vision, guiding goals, and ministry model. The ministry model of Safe Church is developing volunteer safe church teams, mandated to be a resource to classes and churches in abuse awareness, prevention and response. So far, restructuring has led to an expansion of Safe Church Ministry, new relationships that were not there before and a seat at new “tables” so to speak. We can pray for that trend to continue.
The message is to trust the Lord in this time of transition. Things are not always as they appear. Through any transition, Safe Church Ministry, in one form or another, will survive and grow. Why? Because churches need to know how to protect the children and vulnerable people entrusted to their care. Because churches bring glory to God as they become places of compassion, justice, and healing. Because churches need to minister to those who have been impacted by abuse: the 1 in 6 men in the congregation who have been sexually abused before age 18, the 1 in 5 women in the congregation who have experienced rape, or the 1 in 10 teens who have been sexually or physically hurt by a dating partner in the last 12 months.
Every church needs Safe Church Ministry. As long as we are needed, we will be here, serving the church.