The way we use our power shouldn’t place other believers at risk. Power belongs to all in the body, not just a select few or a single group. We need to take practical steps to rebalance power in our churches and make them safer for those among us who, as of now, have less structural power and are more vulnerable to abuse.
No matter how well-meaning, and regardless of their views on gender, leadership, or theology, churches are almost never prepared to meet a victim’s needs. This is why I encourage churches not to go it alone when it comes to helping victims of abuse.
While the the #MeToo and #ChurchToo hashtags may be new, the abuse epidemic is not. The problem is not “out there”—that is, outside the walls of the church—but “in here,” something the church must reckon with as much as anyone in our world.
All pastors teach their congregants about abuse one way or another. When we preach, lead Bible studies, or interact pastorally or socially with people, the language we use and the way we present topics will either reinforce or challenge an abuser’s narrative.
Recently, someone asked my thoughts on racial segregation in the US church on Sunday mornings: “How will we ever move forward together, as a unified church, if people of color don’t forgive us for the past?”