A Ministry of Make and Deepen Disciples

Making our Churches Safe

At the beginning of a new year, it’s a good time to review what safety procedures we have in place to protect both our children and those who minister with them.

Why is this so critical? Here are three good reasons:

Children are a gift and God calls us to care for and nurture them.
Psalms 127:3, Proverbs 1:8, Ephesians 6:1-4, Titus 1:6

Our call from God is to help every child come to Christ and grow as a disciple of Christ.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Acts 2:38-39

We also have a responsibility to care for everyone who ministers with children.
1 Corinthians 12:26

Unfortunately, the church is not immune from the dangers of abuse. In fact, we can unwittingly create an environment that increases the potential for abuse. This includes a lack of safeguards, easy access, and number of potential opportunities, ironically all resulting from a community of trust.

We can, however, put in safeguards within a community of trust, beginning by setting an intentional climate within the church that:

  • Recognizes the equal value of all people
  • Solves problems in a climate of openness
  • Encourages relationships which are open, not secret
  • Acknowledges that persons have the right to say no
  • Reports observed or experienced misconduct

Second, we can have intentional and comprehensive dialogue with our congregations on policy development and the reasons behind it. To develop policy and help with congregational awareness, we have created “Making Churches Safer,” a resource that can serve as a template for your safety policy.

Finally, ongoing training for volunteers and staff as well as congregational awareness will help to insure adherence to a policy that will help to reduce the risk of abuse, as well as identify and care for children who experience abuse.

If we did not live in a fallen world, this would not even be an issue. However, because churches are not immune from worldly influences, developing a policy to making your church a safe place is a statement that we value children and are willing to undergo some inconvenience to help ensure their safety.

You can find all safety resources including “Making Churches Safer” here: https://covchurch.org/resources/making-churches-safer/

Steve Burger

Steve is the Director of Children, Family and Intergenerational Ministries for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He has served churches in New York and Minnesota with his wife Marti, prior to serving in his present position. Their daughter Melissa Wall serves as Pastor of Deer Grove Covenant Church, Palatine, IL, son-in-law, Fredrik serves in the ECC Denominational Offices, and their son Paul and his wife Britta are pastors at Bethany Covenant Church in Mt Vernon, WA. Steve can recall moments from infancy and feels closest to God when he is with children. He is committed to supporting and partnering with those who minister with children, families and intergenerational communities of faith.

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