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.
If you long for a better world, then you’re in good historic company. In the 1800s, abolitionists promoted a world that had never existed—one without slavery. They faced unparalleled challenges: building industries without slave labor; uniting families, churches, and a country divided; and exposing flawed scholarship that supported slavery. Some of their greatest opponents were Christians who believed that the Bible condoned slavery. Many were convinced that abolitionists were driven not by the gospel but by secular Enlightenment ideals. Egalitarians face similar accusations.