What does a safe church look like? This week’s Ministry Briefing has a wide variety of articles addressing the ways that church leaders can make their churches safer for children and safer even for themselves.
When allegations are leveled against a pastor, 74% of pastors surveyed by LifeWay reported that they believe the allegations should remain secret until something conclusive has been determined. However, 47% still believe that a pastor should step down in the midst of an investigation. While there isn’t a set procedure for every church to follow, these findings provide critical information about what churches expect of their pastors and staff. Do you have a clear procedure for investigations that protect all parties involved? Can your church trust your investigation process?
Most importantly, if a pastor has been found guilty of an allegation, such as adultery, the next step needs to be set out clearly with key members charged with making sure the proper procedures are followed. Churches are divided over what restoration looks like or how long it should take, so it’s essential to define what the process will look like before any allegations are leveled.
In the case of ABWE, a popular, charismatic missionary doctor had been abusing young girls, sexually assaulting women, and having multiple affairs for many years before the missions agency removed him from the field. Victims came forward over the years to report his abuse, but ABWE attempted to handle the situations in-house, and even required a young girl to confess her “sin” for being sexually abused by the missionary.
ABWE failed to involve outside groups with expertise to guide their process and didn’t take the abuse allegations seriously enough until far too late. In the case of serial adulterers and abusers, swift and permanent action is critical. Most importantly, ABWE even failed to report Ketcham’s abuse to churches that he attended after leaving the mission field.
Besides protecting staff and children, there’s the matter of financial security for pastors. Roughly half of pastors are in potentially unstable financial positions. If their churches lose a few key donors, they could face significant budget shortfalls that would add pressure to their churches and their personal finances. Most pastors have little to no money in savings, and only 5% have discussed their financial concerns with someone on staff. The majority of pastors keep their worries to themselves.
While money worries can become a burden to every pastor, they can also put a ministry into jeopardy. You’re not alone if you worry about money at your church, but finding a solution may require some creative thinking!
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