Abuse is an inappropriate use of power in human relationships.
Abuse is prolific in society because of our indispensable sociological needs, coupled with our inescapable fallen nature, leading to propensities for domination and control.
Abuse is enacted in all human social groupings, including Christian congregations.
Biblical religion makes a number of assertions regarding abuse:
- God made humankind good, without tendencies toward abusive relationships
- The intrusion of sin into the creation has contaminated all human ideas and actions, including inclinations toward abusing social relationships
- God cares about abused people and groups, providing redemptive and healing initiatives
- Jesus is the fullest expression of divine love among us, and his ministry constantly sought to address the improprieties of abuse, and to redress the effects of abusive behavior
- The ministries of the Christian church, as an extension of Jesus’ identity and ministry, need to be intentional agents of care and assistance for the abused, and condemnation of abusers and abusive systems
Provide a contact point for those who have experienced abuse or are concerned about others who are experiencing abuse or its aftermaths, allowing first steps toward finding necessary processes and resources and movements toward healing.
Provide understanding of various forms of abuse, and language to talk about it.
Establish a visible congregational ministry presence addressing matters of abuse and staffing (either volunteer or paid) for personal connections to this ministry.
Hold seminar-type events on matters of abuse for regional pastors and staff:
- Keep the seminar reasonably short (4-7 hours, including a mealtime for table conversations).
- Hold it at a regional seminary or college to establish collaborative synergy.
- Invite big-draw speakers to address prevalence and varieties of abuse, as well as the need for and possibilities of congregational ministries in situations of abuse.
- Offer a take-home package (possibly for a fee?) that includes:
- Information on abuse (prevalence, statistics, etc.) for pastors’ messages
- Biblical references, theological insights, and message preparation materials
- Group session materials for congregational training/engagement on abuse matters.
Provide take home materials for pastors and congregational leaders.
Facilitate the creation (using existing agencies and denominational abuse response teams) of web resources and regional abuse response resource data libraries for referrals, counseling, and legal help.