I remember the very first training I attended that focused on the safety and protection of children. Two churches in our city partnered together to create a weekend training that was done really well. It was encouraging to see the elders and leaders from both churches modeling to everyone that this was important work. It was also heavy work. After a Friday night and a Saturday morning of learning, I came home feeling the weight of these hard topics. I went straight to my back porch to spend some time reflecting and praying. I remember crying and talking to God about why some children have to experience such horrible things.
God met me there on my back porch that afternoon and I can still remember the song he brought to my mind as I sat and listened to the voice of a child singing in worship…leading me to worship. That song still brings tears to my eyes and encourages me to remember that God loves His children and He wants us to love His children too!
A spark was planted in me that weekend. After that, I wanted to learn more. I wanted to do more. The motivation was there to begin the hard work of thinking through the efforts we made in our church to protect children. This was slow, steady work. We had a good beginning, but we started to make improvements as we continued to seek advice and learn.
As we got to the point of being ready to communicate more clearly to our congregation about child protection, I went to visit our local child advocacy center. If I’m honest, I really did not understand what they did. I think they were a little surprised when I called them to ask for an appointment to hear about their work. It was another heavy day. But it was also beautiful. I was shown the room where advocates surround a child as they tell their story. They make sure the child only has to tell their abuse story once so that they do not have to relive the trauma over and over. I also saw the room where the play therapy happens with toys familiar to children. Children are intentionally thought about and cared for in that building.
I was inspired to intentionally think about and care for the children in our church building. The staff at the child advocacy center were able to share some final wisdom as we tweaked our documents. They have also now come to our church to host a training. As we’ve built a relationship, I think we’ve encouraged and inspired each other. They shared that they are encouraged to see a church who wants to do better and who sought their advice.
This story I’ve shared with you has spanned 10 years. It was 10 years ago that I attended that first training. Our church already had a policies and procedures document and we could have been content there. We could have told our sister church that we did not need to partner with them as we had our documents completed and we didn’t have any work to do. I’ve learned that there is always work to do when it comes to policies and procedures. Every time our documents were reviewed, God lit a spark in someone to keep improving and to keep learning. It is a team effort as each year someone picks up the work, asks some questions and digs for answers.
When is the last time someone reviewed your policies and procedures documents? Where do you need to seek help in finding answers to some hard questions? I want to encourage you that God is in this work too. He cares deeply for His children and will help you take your next steps in caring for them as well.
To watch a training video on this topic visit our website HERE.
To read 2 other blogpost, written by Steve Collins, on this subject visit our website HERE and HERE.