I recently recorded a podcast with Popcorn Theology in which we reviewed the 2015 film ‘Spotlight’ which inevitably led us to a discussion about sexual abuse within the church. This prompted me to compile a list of three helpful articles regarding the effective prevention of sexual abuse within the church.
Check out these three helpful resources, and be sure to catch my interview with Richard Foltz, host of the Popcorn Theology podcast, releasing on January 16, 2016.
Eleven Vital Steps to Minimize Risk of Child Sex Abuse in Your Church by Thom Rainer
“I plead with church leaders to do all they can do to minimize [the risk of child sex abuse]. It is definitely important for the health of the church. But, even more, we need to do everything we can for the safety and care of the children. It’s first about them.”
In this article, Rainer gives eleven practical steps to prevent the possibility of sexual abuse in a church. He particularly focuses on how to screen and equip your staff to ensure the safety of your children.
The Tragic Prevalence of Sexual Assault by Tim Challies/Justin Holcomb
“Because sexual assault is a form of victimization that is particularly stigmatized in American society, many victims suffer in silence, which only intensifies their distress and disgrace. There is a societal impulse to blame traumatized individuals for their suffering. Research findings suggest blaming victims for post-traumatic symptoms is not only wrong but also contributes to the vicious cycle of traumatization. Victims experiencing negative social reactions have poorer adjustment. Research has proven that the only social reactions related to better adjustment by victims are being believed and being listened to by others.
Christians can listen to them and tell them, ‘I believe you. I’m sorry that this sin and crime happened to you.’ They can also offer to help: ‘If you want to report this, I’ll go with you so you are not alone.'”
In this eye-opening interview, Tim Challies talks with Justin Holcomb about the painful reality of sexual assault, and how often it is dealt with incorrectly.
Holcomb provides practical ways for Christians to deal with sexual assault, both legally and as they provide spiritual counsel to victims.
Sexual Abuse in the Church; Raising the Bar by Gregory Love/Kimberlee Norris
“The church and its children are increasingly endangered by sexual predators whose opportunity to ensnare children elsewhere is growing smaller, while the church opens its doors to anyone. Sexual abusers looking for access to children will gravitate to activities and organizations where there are fewer protective measures in place. Secular organizations have responded to this inevitable truth by implementing policies and training to reduce risk. Many churches, however, have done little, because ministries fail to recognize the risks or are laboring under the misconception ‘it won’t happen here.'”
Gregory Love and Kimberlee Norris, partners at the law firm Love & Norris and directors of MinistrySafe, provide helpful statistical and legal data regarding the abuse epidemic – framed in an understanding of Biblical duty.
This article serves as a much-needed crash course in both the legal and practical side of preventing sexual abuse.
What articles or resources do you recommend to churches combatting the issue of sexual abuse? Drop a comment below.