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Safe Church Assessment Introduction and Instructions

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How safe is your church? This assessment tool is designed to help councils: 

  1. assess how safe their particular congregation is from abuse in all its forms (sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual); and

  2. reflect on what steps the leadership, in conversation with a Classis Safe Church Coordinator/Team member, might take to nurture a culture that resists abuse in their congregation.

How to use this tool: 

  1. The council of a church assigns a group of two or three people to become the Assessment Team. The Assessment Team oversees a process to distribute, review, and report back to the council the results of the online Safe Church Assessment. It is recommended that members of the Assessment Team not be related to each other and include at least one lay person. It is also recommended that the senior or lead pastor not serve on the Assessment Team.

  2. To increase the usefulness of the Assessment, we encourage the Assessment Team to invite staff, leaders, and members of the congregation to submit responses. The goal is to provide the council with a snapshot of how the church is experienced by members of the congregation in terms of abuse awareness, prevention, and response. We suggest giving participants a deadline of 2 to 3 weeks to complete the Assessment.

  3. Once the deadline has passed, the Assessment Team will examine the results. We encourage the Assessment Team to invite a Classis Safe Church Coordinator/Team member and/or denominational Safe Church staff to meet with them to go over the results. The Safe Church Coordinator can identify trends, areas of strength, opportunities for growth, as well as make recommendations and suggestions about resources available to help the church become a safer and healthier community.  

  4. Lastly, the Assessment Team writes up and submits a report to the church council of the results of the Assessment and makes recommendations for future action. Again, it is highly recommended that the council invite a Classis Safe Church Coordinator/Team member and/or denominational Safe Church staff to meet with them to plan next steps in response to the assessment.

There are three different stages to this assessment tool. Churches can choose which stage(s) of the assessment tool will best serve their congregation in the journey toward becoming a safer community. Each stage is created as a Google form that has a hyperlink embedded in this document. The three different stages include:

  1. Getting Started - includes questions about a church's abuse prevention policy, training, abuse awareness and response.  Using this tool is a great way for a church to get started on becoming a safer community that resists abuse.

  1. Next Steps - invites churches to reflect on the church culture, particularly with respect to issues of decision-making, leadership, healthy boundaries, and use of power. This section of the assessment tool is for churches who have a strong abuse prevention policy in place with regular trainings for staff and volunteers and who feel ready to take the next step in fostering a culture that resists abuse. 

  2. Optional - includes 2 sets of questions: one set on diversity, equity, and inclusion for churches who want to explore issues of hospitality and belonging in their congregation; the second on church finances for churches that are interested in instituting safer practices regarding the handling of church finances.  

Additionally, congregation-specific questions can be added to any part of the assessment by Safe Church Coordinators/Team members or denominational Safe Church staff should a council want to particularize the assessment for their context.

If you wish to take the complete assessment (in one form, rather than broken into three), you can find it here: Full Safe Church Assessment

Definitions: 

Classis Safe Church Coordinator/Team: A person or team who provides support to churches in their classis in the work of abuse prevention, awareness and response.

Safe Church Leader: A person who advocates for and organizes efforts in abuse prevention, awareness, and response in a particular congregation.

Church Leader: A person who is part of the church staff or the council.

Council: The team of elders and deacons who provide leadership to the local church.

Staff: A person who is on the church payroll. Examples: Pastor, Youth Minister, Office Administrator

Volunteers: A person who serves in the church or its ministries in an unpaid role.

Congregant: A person who attends worship services and/or programs offered by the church.

For more information or to get started, please contact your Classis Safe Church Coordinator or [email protected].

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