Sermon Resources: Preaching on the Topic of Domestic Violence

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Several resources on how to preach on the topic of domestic violence, things to keep in mind, and samples of sermons from Sojourners 100 sermons.

Sermon Resources: 

We must find the time to preach on domestic violence in our churches. Those who continue to live in situations of abuse must know there is no excuse for violence, in any of our relationships, and especially the relationships with our spouses and children.

When sermons are being crafted on the topic of domestic violence, consider the following (modified list from Faith Trust Institute):

  • Those who have been victimized often need to hear that the abuse is not their fault, and not God's will.

  • They also need to hear that they are not alone and that help is available.

  • Let them know that without intervention, abuse often escalates in frequency and severity over time.

  • Those who are in domestic violence situations should not be in couples counseling, instead refer to a specialized domestic violence counseling program.

  • Let them know there are shelters, safe homes, and advocacy resources available.

  • Don't minimize the abusive behavior.

  • If you preach on reconciliation for an abusive relationship, always make sure that it is always in the context of accountability, justice and a coordinated community response for those who are victimized (click here to learn more about a coordinated community response).

Here are a few sermon samples on preaching about abuse:

  1. Rev. Colin Vander Ploeg preached this excellent sermon in January 2020 at Bethany CRC.
  2. Safe Church Staff member, Eric Kas preached this sermon in October 2019 titled From Cover-up Families to Citites of Self-Interest.

To give you more ideas for your sermons, you may visit SOJO.NET/100SERMONS.  

Sojourners is an organization committed to racial and social justice, life and peace, and environmental stewardship. Back when #MeToo went viral in 2017, the movement paved the way for #ChurchToo and #SilenceIsNotSpiritual, hashtags that insisted that because Christians are not immune to perpetrating sexual and domestic violence, they must actively denounce it.

Christians all across the spectrum spoke out online against abuse. So Sojourners became curious and asked this question: will faith leaders be willing to elevate the conversation from Twitter to the pulpit?

They invited pastors and parishioners to send them sermons on domestic and sexual violence, hoping to have 100 sermons by the end of the year. In just a few months they had nearly 150. Go to their SOJO.NET/100SERMONS to read quotes from each sermon, and learn how you can begin making your church a safer sanctuary for survivors. You can search by location, scripture, or denomination.

Disclaimer: Please note that the link to SOJO.NET/100Sermons is included here for information purposes and ideas only and does not constitute an endorsement of every sermon included in this collection.  

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We love your comments! Thanks for your help upholding the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.

A very important topic that needs to be addressed within the church and in the greater community.

Participant

I ask the Safe Church Ministry, carefully and respectfully, to please, please reconsider this “sermon” list.

If we are the Church that admits with Jesus (and the Prophets and Apostles) that the Word of God is the gift that washes, redeems, and transforms us, then we can agree that an overwhelming number of these messages are not “sermons.” Many of them simply deny the inspiration of scripture – the first in the list being the most offensive (yet). Others pay little or no attention to The Word of God at all. Few have any Good News of Christ’s sacrificial redemption by faith. These may be speeches, or even timely cries from the heart, but they are not “sermons.” Many of these messages are not able to be preached by pastors who not only know Christ, but have signed The Covenant of Officebearers promising their teaching and preaching be in alignment with The Word as well as our Creeds and Confessions.

I am with you in admitting that addressing this very topic from the pulpit is necessary. But as Christians, we must do it as Christians, and that means being bought and formed by The Word God sent to us. That means being taught, reproved, corrected and trained for righteousness by that Word – not standing in place of God by correcting and reproving The Word. The hope and healing we and our congregations need will not come when we deny The Word and Spirit God has given us for that exact work.

I appreciate your comment and concern, Michael.  It is true that as a denomination, we hold to a high view of Scripture that aligns better with the ways some Christian traditions read Scripture than others.  I think its worth noting that the "sermon" list you reference is a link to an outside source that contains resources from Christian pastors from a variety of traditions.  Once the link is clicked, there is a drop down menu that allows one to search for sermons from a wide variety of traditions, including those who share a similar view of Scripture to our own - Evangelical and Reformed Church of America being the ones that stand out immediately.  

Beyond the sermons by those who share our views of the authority of Scripture, I think there is value in knowing how Scripture is shaping the response to domestic violence of the Christian community at large.  It can be encouraging to hear that those in other Christian communities are also talking about and addressing issues around domestic violence and spur us onward in our vigilance about attending to issues of abuse.  Furthermore, reading outside our own tradition can help us see things in Scripture that we had not seen before and awaken in us new insights and awareness of God's concern for the vulnerable.  So, while we may not agree with everything in every sermon, they still provide ideas that can help us incorporate greater awareness of domestic violence in our own sermons.  And because of that, we thought they were worth sharing.

Participant

Thanks, Amanda. I appreciate much of what you said here. Unfortunately, none of what you wrote was included in the recommendation in this post. In fact, the post recommended these messages as if they are in line with, or a continuation of, the CRC’s work in addressing abuse and violence with the same attention to being Christians finding Christian hope and solutions until Jesus returns. Unfortunately, as an organization, Sojourners cannot be relied on to provide specifically Christian hope and solutions.

I am all for reading “outside our own tradition” (I wasn’t raised Christian, much less CRC) and I do it all the time. However, we need to be honest about it. It only leads to more questions and confusion when a CRC ministry recommends “sermons” without any of the disclaimer you responded with. As a pastor, I am desperately trying to help the people God has given into my care and orbit see the difference between what is of Christ and what is anti-Christ – and to run toward Christ. Maybe because of this work I hope to have more support from the denomination, but assumptions and/or poor recommendations from a denominational ministry doesn’t help a pastor’s work. Perhaps amending the post would provide a more honest reason for why these messages were recommended, and what there usefulness may or may not be.

Participant

I respectfully ask again for the Safe Church ministry to reconsider this list of messages provided by Sojourners. More specifically, to remove at least the 6 Unitarian Universalist messages from the “sermons” listed. If those specific messages cannot be removed from this list, then I ask that the Safe Church ministry provide a disclaimer on this page explaining that many of these examples of preaching, which this denominational ministry still recommends as “resources on how to preach on the topic of domestic violence” are anti-Christian and do not proclaim a scriptural Christ.

Certainly the Safe Church ministry can agree that recommending preaching that addresses injustice without any appeal to the gospel of Christ crucifying our sin and resurrecting the faithful to new life will hinder the goals of awareness, healing, and transformation this ministry aims to promote. Certainly the Safe Church ministry can agree that the Christian Reformed Church needs to be clear about the gospel and the true means of grace, healing and justice on Earth.

With respect to Christ and the hope of this denominational ministry, please remove – or at least properly identify – the anti-Christian messages provided on this page.

Community Builder

Thank you for your concern about domestic violence and interest in worship resources, Michael.  This is heartening indeed. Please note that we have added a disclaimer.  Grateful for your partnership in this important ministry.

Participant

Thank you for posting the disclaimer! This gets me wondering: Why Sojourners? If SoJo has such a hard time discerning a Biblical sermons from unBiblical (or anti-Biblical, even), maybe there’s a better source? I’d be more than willing to take time to help you find some, or contribute my own before throwing up a grab bag of messages that may or may not help the Church.

Guide

Hi Michael, I just added a few specific examples of sermons. One is a fantastic one by Rev. Colin Vander Ploeg, and the other is one I preached in 2019. We would love to see more sermons preaching against abuse, highlighting God's grace and renewal - particularly ones that are trauma informed and give voice to the experience survivors face. Feel free to contribute to this, if you feel led. We would love to have more churches participate in "Abuse Awareness Sunday" on the fourth Sunday in September, it also doesn't have to take place on that Sunday, but is at least an opportunity, more info can be found on Abuse Awareness Sunday at our page: crcna.org/safechurch/abuse-awareness.

Also, if you have a request regarding key changes to a Safe Church Network article, it may be helpful to send me an email before a public comment, just a suggestion, take it for what it is. Regarding why SoJo - I can schedule a conversation with you if you'd like to talk about underlying philosophies of a variety of organizations/ pros/cons/etc. In short though, it was neat to see an organization ask pastors from any church to be in solidarity with those who have been victimized by DV, I haven't heard of another org that quickly received so many sermons on the topic. Back to the hope though, I'm optimistic that more churches who confess the Apostles Creed may be able to give voice to the unique challenges that survivors of DV face (and hopefully more of those of us who confess to the Three Forms of Unity as well).