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Being Tov Churches

Safe Church Ministry has a mission: We equip congregations in abuse awareness, prevention, and response. We help build communities where the value of each person is honored; where people can worship and grow free from abuse; and when abuse has occurred, the response is compassion and justice that fosters healing. 

Recently, Safe Church Ministry invited Dr. Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, to participate in a webinar we hosted to discuss his newest book: A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture that Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing. McKnight co-authored this book with his daughter, Laura Barringer, in response to widely publicized stories of abuse that happened within the church they attended, Willow Creek. Horrified by these revelations of abuse in their own community, Barringer and McKnight explore the role of church culture in creating environments where abuse is tolerated and reflect on what needs to change for churches to become communities that resists abuse.  

Curious about the Hebrew word Tov? Tov simply means good or goodness. Yet, there is so much wrapped up in this 3 letter word. As Barringer and McKnight point out, the word tov is used over 700 times in the Bible. Clearly, it must be important! In their book, Barringer and McKnight use scriptural examples to develop key elements of tov: empathy, grace, putting others before yourself, truthfulness, justice, service and being Christlike. They then go on to wonder what it might look like for a church community to be tov.  

Does tov describe how your church functions? Are you a part of a church that actively works to build a community where all people are valued and respected? Are people’s differences – their uniqueness – embraced or marginalized? Is your church recognizing the giftings of the Holy Spirit in members and encouraging them to use these gifts? Is the culture of the church grace-filled, characterized by trust, love, repentance, and forgiveness toward each other? Is the example of servant leadership that Jesus demonstrated throughout his time on earth being acted out within your church? 

At Safe Church, we would love to see all churches invest some time in considering how the word tov can be lived out in their church community. Starting September 27th, on Monday evenings at 7:30 pm ET/ 4:30 pm PT, Safe Church will be hosting a book club on A Church Called Tov that will run for 5 weeks. This will be a great opportunity to join with others to talk about how we can participate in cultivating tov churches. To be a part of our book club, or to find out more about it, go to: https://bit.ly/TOVbookclub. Join us!

This article was made possible through a partnership with CRC Ministries within Canada.

  • Becky Jones is a Volunteer and Communication Specialist for both CRCNA Disability Concerns and Safe Church Ministry.

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