I have a question for you frequent fliers out there. Do you listen to the flight attendants when they go over the safety instructions prior to takeoff? Some of you can probably repeat the tired lines in your sleep,

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome aboard…flight 1234 with service to blah blah city. It is a pleasure to have you onboard and flying with us. We'd like to ask for your attention for the next three minutes as we demonstrate the safety features of this Boeing 737. Please pause all conversations, blah blah blah and direct your attention to the flight attendants blah blah blah….

We know we should put our seats back to their upright positions when landing. We know we should take care of our own oxygen masks before helping others. We know not to tamper with smoke detectors in the lavatory. We wonder why we have to turn off our electronics for take-off and landing. And, we know that the closest exit may be behind us.

We know. We get it already.

But, in case of an actual emergency, what will most of us do? We’ll panic. We’ll scream, grip the seats, and pray. The airlines know this but they continue to drill us just in case we might be able to follow some instructions in a time of crisis. Try as they will to manage the situation, they will need our cooperation in an event of a mid-air emergency. Repetition is their way to drill it into our heads.

Does Your Church Have a Plan for Reported Abuse?

Similarly, every church needs a well-thought out, tested plan to deal with an allegation of abuse within its midst. Churches that fail to develop such plans are unlikely to respond well or in a timely fashion. Without a plan, there may be unnecessary and needless soul deaths. Even when churches have a plan, failure to instruct the congregation and leaders as to how the plan should work will likely condemn the plan to failure.

Besides the need for a plan PRIOR to an allegation of abuse, your church needs a plan for these two reasons:

  1. The name and honor of Christ is the ONLY thing at stake. Not the church’s honor; not the leaders’ reputation; just the reputation of our savior who tells us that those who would hinder little children from the kingdom will face severe judgment by God. Having a plan says that we care about protection of the reputation of God the Father as much as we do for plans to grow attendance or budgets or any other programmatic objective.
  2. Need there be any other reason than #1? Well, if you need another reason, try this: so that the world can see the nature of true love. Is this not the definition of evangelical—to spread the good news about the Gospel? True love is not love of self, love of comfort, or love of position. Sadly, our recent church history would suggest that many church leaders place their own interests ahead of victims of clergy sexual abuse. True love is found in one who sacrifices personal goals (comfort, power, position, etc.) for the sake of the welfare of others.

So, does your church or agency have a plan? Have you considered ways to improve it? If your plan needs to be enhanced beyond “call someone” or if you have some desire to serve abuse victims and offenders AND If you think that $50 is not too much to spend to improve your church’s preparation for the possibility of an abuse allegation, Biblical Seminary can help you. Sign up for our July 20-21 mini conference: Abuse in the Church: Biblical, Legal, Counseling Perspectives.

Why wait for the oxygen mask to drop down in front of you to start looking for the instruction card in the seatback pocket in front of you?

Phil Monroe is Professor of Counseling & Psychology and Director of the MA in Counseling program at Biblical Seminary. He maintains a private practice with Diane Langberg & Associates. You can follow his personal and professional musings at www.wisecounsel.wordpress.comor read more about it at http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/phillip-monroe.


0 # Brad Hambrick 2012-06-13 12:43
I completely agree and greatly appreciated Dr. Monroe's assistance in putting together this policy.


Hopefully it can serve as a starting point for other churches attempted to create a similar policy for their setting.
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0 # Philip Monroe 2012-06-13 20:59
Thanks Brad for posting your church policy. May many others follow in your footsteps!
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