Raising the bar for responding to sexual abuse

It’s time for ministries to be the Gospel standard.

When brought to light, abuse in the church should be handled swiftly. 

Sometimes it can be challenging to know how to respond, so below, we’ve provided considerations should your church face allegations.

Cody Mankin
GuideStone Property
and Casualty®

As experts in church insurance and ministry, we know that the importance of protecting children and other vulnerable populations is never in question. But how to best protect those you serve has become more difficult and complex. 

We are called to the 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 child is at risk — including yours. Too often, churches have the misconception that “sexual abuse doesn’t happen here,” which is inaccurate. Child sexual abuse and abuse of vulnerable members of the church skip no spiritual paradigm.

One of our prayers for you at GuideStone® is that your church would be a safe place where your children and all those who are 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.

Remember, when you acknowledge the reality of the problem and commit to oversight and raising the bar, you’re not only leading your staff and congregation but empowering them to rise to the clear expectations of safety set for your ministry.

We firmly believe prayer should be coupled with action. So, what should you do to raise the bar and set a higher safety standard?

Listen to and care well for victims.

Download the eBook!

If an incident is reported, ensuring that the individual who suffered feels heard and supported by your ministry is of utmost importance. That’s why we recommend the Caring Well curriculum and resources from 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. We recommend these resources to you and your church or ministry.

Commit to doing the hard work together.

Raising the bar isn’t a quick adjustment; it’s often a complete overhaul of your ministry’s thinking and involvement. Creating a culture where safety is the standard might 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 importantly, 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. You should often review your ministry’s policies and procedures — adjusting where needed. To help you know where to start, check out our Risk Management Review, located at GuideStone.org/RMRCE, for tips on safeguarding your ministry and those you serve.

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 the victim, 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 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.

Participate in a MinistrySafe® program.

As mentioned earlier in the article, training is an integral part of raising the safety standards for your ministry, so finding a great resource 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 on the services and training this trusted ministry organization provides.

It’s time to raise the bar high enough that children and other vulnerable individuals are protected while in your care. You’ll never regret exerting additional effort to protect your people. Since we’re a faith-based organization, we uniquely understand the issues churches face today. With GuideStone on your side, your ministry can manage risks well while focusing on spreading the good news. Visit GuideStone.org/Protect to learn more.

Cody Mankin earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at Oklahoma State University and his MBA from Dallas Baptist University. He joined GuideStone in 2014 and served in Insurance Marketing, where he helped small churches obtain health and dental coverage. He moved to the Property and Casualty team in 2017 and was named Agent of the Year by Brotherhood Mutual® in 2018.

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.


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