Its complicated, arduous and overwhelming at times.
It scares volunteers away…
Many churches have functioned without them for centuries…
So why all the fuss?
I’ll be honest, I may be a tad bit of a ‘safety nerd’ when it comes to Plan to Protect and our churches.
I am passionate about it!
Maybe its because I am close with a couple people who were abused in Christian ministry settings; Maybe it’s because my husband and I volunteer with ex-offenders;
Maybe its because I know the church can live more excellently than we do much of the time…
Maybe there has just been too.much.hurt.
-and it makes me Angry.
I care about People: victims AND offenders.
And I care about systems: making the good, the bad and the ugly —> healthier, functional, and flourishing. When it comes to relationships and systems we too often settle for mediocre, borderline atrocious practices. (Don’t even get me started on horrific HR practices in the church- Our pastor friend blind-sided fired just the other day on the front steps of his church when returning to the building from his regular cancer screening check up).
Lord Jesus Have Mercy on us, for we can be so Reckless and Blind with our actions.
Why are we so bad at HR? At being an Organization?
Are churches full of bad people who maliciously tear the already wounded down even more?
No… not purposely I don’t think..
So why does this happen over and over again?
Here’s what I think.
I think every church is on one level A> a family of believers; and on another level B. an “organization”.
I think most of us embrace Level A, I think a lot of us resent Level B.
Not a lot of people sign up- or want to sign up- for the “burdens” of being a healthy well functioning organization.
It’s a lot of work.
But when I think of the weight of the work, I am reminded of Uncle Ben’s words to Peter Parker as he too grappled with the weight of his amazing gift…
See, we are given this amazing gift of being the Body of Christ knit together in Grace and Love.
We eat together, laugh together, raise babies, bury our loved ones. We share in Communion and sing praises..
Additionally, we have this amazing gift of a building to keep us warm in the winter, amazing staff to equip us to minister as saints, we get tax exemptions for sharing out of what God has given to us abundantly…
We have been given amazing gifts!
And whether we recognize it or not, those gifts translate to power in our society.
And with great power…
I just got off the phone with a leader who is concerned for her church. Some individuals are deciding to re-script their safety policy so that will be “easy” to follow. She was concerned that this revamped policy was “off”. Things were getting grey and they weren’t actually doing due-diligence.
So we talked about the Plan to Protect Safety Policy that can be ordered and adapted to individual contexts (as approved by a lawyer). We talked about how (theoretically) the church could re-write anything they wanted, but it didn’t mean that it would avoid dangerous situations.. It didn’t necessarily mean that their insurance company would back them up on it.
We together wondered aloud about this “revised” policy-
[Best Case Scenario] Will this document create safety nets so that no child is ever in a threatening situation?
[Worst Case Scenario] Will these guidelines protect leaders from compromising situations?
[Worst Case Scenario] Would this policy protect our staff and volunteers from liability in a court room perhaps even there under false allegations?
Policies are for you, for me, and for our vulnerable.
We most certainly don’t want anyone offended against.
And we don’t want anyone unduly accused of offending.
Having open doors, buddy systems, 2 leaders minimum on that camping trip…etc.. This is all the grid-work to create safe boundaries between the caregivers and the participants in children and youth ministry.
If your church does not have a safety policy….
If your church has a policy and no one follows it…
If your church has written up a policy themselves and has not had it approved by your insurance provider…
Please, please be a voice for doing things Right; For doing things Well.
(There are resources out there to help you with this, if you are unsure where to start please feel free to email or call)
Our society is asking us that we, as Faith Based Organizations, hold a higher standard than we have in the past. And as we seek to minister to these neighbours, friends and family I pray we would do so with humility and show them that their are worth our very Best.
Let’s together carry the weight of Responsibility that we have in this amazing Gift of Being the Church.