Churches and ministries never question the importance of protecting the children and other vulnerable populations entrusted to their care. But it’s how to best protect those you serve that has become more difficult and complex. We are called to highest standards of care.
When you, as a minister, accept a low bar on protection, you’re sending the message to those under your leadership that it’s not a priority or a concern for you, so it shouldn’t be for them. This minimizes the significance of the crisis the Church is facing today.
The truth is that every church is at risk — including yours. Too often, churches have the misconception that “sexual abuse doesn’t happen here.” Child sexual abuse skips no spiritual paradigm.
When you acknowledge the reality of the problem and commit to raising the bar, you’re leading your staff and congregation and empowering them to rise to the clear expectations of safety set for your ministry.
That’s one of our prayers for you at GuideStone®: that your church would be a safe place where the vulnerable can safely flourish and where abusers have no place. We believe when the body of Christ is healthy, it’s free to transform the world — and we want to help guide and equip your ministry and its people to do just that.
But, we also believe that prayer should be coupled with action.
So, what steps should you take to raise the bar and set a higher
Step 1: Commit to doing the hard work together
Raising the bar isn’t a quick adjustment; it’s often a complete overhaul in your ministry’s thinking and involvement. Creating a culture where safety is the standard will take work, but it must be a priority. Implement new policies and procedures. Train your employees and volunteers. Encourage open and honest communication. And perhaps most important, don’t become complacent.
As perpetrators adapt and circumstances change, it’s important that your church or ministry never grows too comfortable and one day realizes the bar is too low. To get started, check out our Risk Management Review for tips on safeguarding your ministry and those you serve.
Step 2: Care well for victims
If an incident is reported, ensuring that the individual who suffered is supported by your ministry is of utmost importance. That’s why we recommend the Caring Well curriculum and resources from our partners at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. The information available at CaringWell.com is designed to help your church or ministry respond to victims with love, compassion and hope.
Step 3: Make sure you have coverage to protect your ministry and those you serve if someone reports sexual misconduct
After following the appropriate legal and state-mandated protocols and ensuring the safety and well-being of those involved, your next step is to think about your ministry. Our strategic alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company provides Sexual Acts Liability coverage in the event of abuse in your congregation or ministry. This coverage both ensures that the victim can receive the care and support they need while also protecting your church from financial calamity. Call your agent and file a claim if a situation presents itself.
Step 4: Participate in a MinistrySafe® program
As we mentioned in Step 1, training is an integral part of raising the safety standards for your ministry, so finding a great partner to guide you is key. MinistrySafe is an organization focused on helping churches and ministries understand and address the risks of sexual abuse.
They can provide your church or ministry with direct access to abuse prevention, training and program assessment to help you recognize, prevent and respond to sexual abuse. Visit MinistrySafe.com/GuideStone for more information.
Is your bar high enough for the protection and coverage children and other vulnerable individuals need? Or is it time to raise the bar for your ministry?
You’ll never regret taking extra steps to protect your people. At GuideStone, we want to help your ministry manage risk well so you can focus on spreading the good news. Visit GuideStone.org/Protect to learn more.
All property and liability coverages are subject to conditions, coverage limits, limitations and exclusions. For precise details of coverage, please refer to actual policy forms. Brotherhood Mutual® is licensed in most states. Some coverages are not available in all states. GuideStone Agency Services® is an appointed agency of Brotherhood Mutual in Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee.