By Vince Smith
Lead Mission Strategist/Executive Director
Keep the Water Out of the People Tank
That phrase was one of the first I learned as a young submariner. In military and business parlance that action is mission-critical. Dead people cannot carry out a mission.
For churches, how we treat and protect the people entrusted to our care is mission-critical.
The recent Houston Chronicle investigative report of abuse and mistreatment of people in Southern Baptist churches by over 200 ministers, church employees, and volunteers cast needed light on a mission-critical issue that congregations must get right. (You can read the full article here: http://bit.ly/Houston_Chronicle)
We must do our best to protect our people from abuse of all kinds—especially sexual abuse.
Our hearts break over the 700+ victims hurt in our churches. We must do our best to keep predators out of the “church tank.” The only acceptable number of victims is zero. We must engage the issue of sexual abuse with compassion and care.
The officers of the Southern Baptist Conference of Assocational Leaders (of which I am one) adopted a statement of principles on abuse. This statement was affirmed and adopted by the CBA operating board in its February meeting. The statement reads as follows: The CBA Church Network will share about abuse. We will educate churches and ministries in the CBA Church Network to understand abuse by:
• Raising awareness: We will raise awareness about the issue of abuse through association outlets and events, including a commitment to address abuse at our 2019 annual meeting.
• Sharing resources: We will share resources about the issue of abuse to the churches and ministries we serve.
• Partnering with the study group: We will partner with the SBC Presidential Sexual Abuse Study to support its efforts to address abuse and resource churches.
Our network will care for abuse survivors.
Our Network will care for abuse survivors
• Encouraging resource development: We encourage the effort of the SBC Presidential Sexual Abuse Study to develop a resource that will help equip churches to care well for the abused and promote strategies to prevent abuse.
• Providing staff training: We will provide training to our network staff and leadership on how to care for survivors of abuse.
• Promoting church training: We will promote training on how to care for survivors of abuse to the churches and ministries we serve.
Our associations will prepare for abuse prevention.
• We will support churches and ministries in our network to prepare to prevent abuse by:
• Enhancing prevention practices: We will encourage churches and ministries to enhance their abuse prevention policies and practices.
• Providing staff training: We will provide training to network staff and leadership on abuse prevention.
• Promoting church training: We will promote training on abuse prevention to the churches and ministries we serve.
The CBA is a network of Great Commission churches who connect, collaborate and engage in the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our network lives for the day every girl, boy, woman and man within our reach experiences a living witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Treating the issue of sexual abuse with compassion and care is crucial – it is mission-critical – to our witness to those same girls, boys, women and men.
CBA has existing connections with ministries and community agencies to further educate our churches on abuse prevention, identification, prevention, and care.
On April 25, the CBA Church Network will host Keepking Kids Safe: Educating the Church About Abuse. The four-hour workshop presented at FBC McKinney will feature speakers from various agencies and will address sexual abuse, child protection, and
best practices for church human resources.
This workshop is the first opportunity of 2019 to connect with resources such as MinistrySafe, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, and The SANE Initiative.
On May 30, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner will present information from the Child Exploitation Unit on sex trafficking and child pornography (see sidebar). These are just a few of the ongoing efforts to help our churches with this mission-critical issue.
Sexual abuse and sexual predators are dark subjects. Jesus brings healing and hope to those who are hurt, and his light exposes those who do evil.
3 All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:3–5 (CSB)