One of the big recommendations to come out of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse was that the culture of institutions and communities needed to change in a way that would make children safer¹. But what is a safe church culture and how can we go about cultivating one?
In a church with a safe culture all the adults would be aware of the risk of harm to vulnerable people through various types of abuse and environmental factors. The people in this group would all participate in creating safe environments and have a clear path for reporting their concerns and would be confidant to make a report if they felt they needed to. Leaders would understand their responsibility to use their position to serve their flock and understand the need to conduct themselves wisely and appropriately. When these aspects of culture have sunk into a community the risk of harm to vulnerable people may be lowered¹.
Cultivating a culture like this may just seem like common sense but sometimes we need to state the obvious just to ensure we are all on the same page. Organisational change is most effective when it begins with the leadership of the group who set a clear vision and path for the rest of the organisation to follow. Safe Ministry Training addresses the need for this process of organisational change in the Board Members Training course. It is a great course to help your church leadership think clearly and carefully about working towards cultivating a safe church culture. Have your church leadership completed the course?
¹Royal Commission. (2018). Final Report Vol. 6. Retrieved from https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/final_report_-_volume_6_making_institutions_child_safe.pdf