By Ross Stewart

 

A healthy church understands that we need to attend to not only spiritual needs within a faith community but also emotional, mental, and even physical needs. We care for the well-being and development of the whole person.

At the heart of our church, we care for people. I want to ask you: how does that care manifest in your church? Is it through the conventional means of pastoral care, counselling, and small groups? These are great, but recent history tells us that we must act more broadly to adequately care for people. Embracing a safe ministry culture is critical in caring for people because we can potentially prevent problems before they transpire.

Gone are the days where we could simply turn up to church on a Sunday and assume that there would be no issues! We now understand that we must be proactive to ensure our ministry is safe in every regard and give special attention to safeguarding children, youth, and young adults.

Church leaders are now expected to invest energy into ensuring their culture, programs, and people are safe. This includes not only WHS considerations but also safeguarding measures to protect people from other forms of harm. The NSW government recently announced the commencement of the Child Safe Scheme, with underlying legislation that requires every organisation in NSW to implement the 10 Child Safe Standards as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.† The ACT government is expected to enact similar legislation in the future. Churches now must be proactive to protect children from harm. Doing nothing is simply not an option.

Fresh Hope wants to help you and your church do this well.

We have a suite of safe ministry policies and procedures ready for adoption, and accessible support is available to guide you in implementing these important processes. We also partner with the Baptist Churches of NSW and the ACT to offer the Creating Safe Spaces training program. The course provides both flexibility (via self-paced online training) as well as interactivity and group learning (via 3-hour workshops). This course consistently receives high praise from both attendees and government agencies. 

“(It was) very helpful to see the list of actions that churches need to complete to promote safety and comply with legislation.”

“I learned so much – things that I did not think would be relevant.”

“(It was) great to be brought up to speed with the latest reporting obligations which have become clearer since I last did the training.”

“Good coverage of what needs to be addressed in the modern legal context for churches.”

“(CSS) made me more aware of the responsibilities needed when working with others, that is, children and adults.”

Completing safe ministry training every three years needs to be part of your church’s rhythm. If your church has never completed Creating Safe Spaces (or it has been more than three years), can I encourage you to consider hosting a 3-hour workshop in 2022?

To organise a workshop, complete the request form here, ensure you indicate that you’re a Church of Christ/Fresh Hope ministry, and we’ll help coordinate things with you from there. 

Our hope is that you broaden your horizon of what care looks like in your church. We not only take steps to care for people in, or after, a challenging season – we now take action to prevent problems in the first place. We want to partner with your church to achieve this. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us via [email protected].

 

† This legislation will come into effect from February 2022, with a 12-month leniency period from the Office of the Children’s Guardian.