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In praise of small things

Incremental changes are making our churches safer

“The health of the oceans depends on the health of rivers; the health of rivers depends on the health of small streams; the health of small streams depends on the health of their watersheds. The health of the water is exactly the same as the health of the land; the health of small places is exactly the same as the health of large places.”
Wendell Berry, Contempt for Small Places

As we come to the end of the year, I invite you to pause and reflect on the past year. While our minds may immediately ponder the challenges of this past year due to COVID and COVID restrictions, it is also worth considering what small, incremental changes happened that provided unexpected growth. What small seed is beginning to show indications of new possibility and growth?

Recently, Safe Church Ministry took time to consider the aspects of our work that contribute to the larger systemic change we hope to see in the area of abuse prevention in the church. What became apparent was that small, achievable goals provided the best roadmap towards positive change for our denomination.

So what do these small, incremental changes look like when we envision a church that exists free from abuse?

It looks like:

  • Information sheets hung in bathroom stalls that discuss what domestic violence looks like and how to reach out for support
  • Annual training on abuse prevention and abuse of power with ministry leaders and church volunteers
  • Pastors including references to abuse in sermons and praying for those who have been victimized by abuse
  • Instituting a Code of Conduct for ministry leaders and church volunteers
  • An up-to-date abuse prevention policy posted on the website
  • Workshops on domestic violence and emotional abuse that take place during women’s coffee break sessions.

All of these elements individually may not lead to significant change, but incorporating a number of these small yet meaningful elements into your church structure will lead to widespread change in the culture of your church when it comes to abuse prevention, awareness, and response.

This article is 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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