It is hard for many Kentucky Baptists to imagine that sexual abuse could happen in their church. Churches are places where strong, healthy and trusting relationships are developed with other redeemed people and where we are taught to believe the best about one another.
However, anyone who has watched the news or read a newspaper in the past five years knows that sexual abuse has taken place in connection with local churches.
Why must each of us in church and ministry leadership work diligently to prevent sexual abuse? Here are three reasons:
1. Because sexual abuse damages people — In my role with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, I have had conversations with survivors of sexual abuse. One thing that is apparent is that the abuse perpetrated against them has hurt them deeply and their recovery is often long and slow. Since we as church leaders care deeply for people, we must try to make it impossible for sexual abuse to happen in connection with a local church.
2. Because sexual abuse can be prevented in churches — Sexual predators are like hunters looking for the easiest target. Some churches are vulnerable to their schemes. Most abuse happens from a perpetrator that the abused person knows and is in close proximity to. There are experts who live in this world day in and day out who can help us identify the traits and practices of sexual predators and develop policies and practices to protect the church.
3. Because sexual abusers are looking for an easy target to abuse — Deepak Reju, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., wrote in his book, On Guard, “… sexual offenders deliberately target churches because they want to take advantage of naïve Christians. To deny that this could happen in a church puts our kids at risk.” Sexual predators are looking for a church that will give them unfettered access to children. We must develop stringent policies and practices that prevent predators from having access to children.
The Kentucky Baptist Convention has scheduled trainings to help churches prevent, respond to and care for people in regard to sexual abuse. These training events will be at four different locations during the week of Oct. 3-6, 2022. We will utilize a nationally recognized Christian ministry to provide these training events. This training will come at no cost to churches as our ministry is funded by churches through the Cooperative Program.
More details along with registration information will be coming soon. I hope you and some of your church leaders will make plans to attend one of these events so that we may be strengthened to carry out our primary gospel mission, while at the same time caring well for people.