Longtime and long-distance friends see each other as they attend the funeral of a loved one. Their likely response will share the following sentiment: “Although I wish it were not due to this circumstance, it is great to see you.” Such a statement explains how I feel about Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M Berkovits’ new book The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries. Although I wish we did not need this resource, the reality is child sexual abuse is a problem in our culture and, yes, very much so within the church. Silence on the issue will only empower the problem. Words of truth are good, but they need to be followed up with action. This resource equips church and ministries to do just that and, for that reason, I am glad for it.
Designed as a resource to accompany certification at GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries walk individuals and groups through forming a child protection policy for their church or ministry. In Section 1, the authors lay the foundation by defining abuse (chapter 1), considering the indicators and impact of abuse (chapters 2–3), and taking a closer look at people who sexually abuse children (chapter 4). Section 2 lists protective policies churches must carry out, both formal and informal (chapters 5–7). However, even with protective practices abuse may still occur. Section 3 of the policy addresses that unfortunate truth and equips churches and ministries in responding to policy violations and child abuse (chapters 8–11). Sections 4–5 wrap up the guide by informing groups how they can show support to sexual abuse survivors and encouraging all churches and ministries to live out the policy. Three appendices on forming a committee to form a policy, giving sample forms, and empowering children are included.
The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries by Basyle Tchividjian and Shira M Berkovits is an unfortunate resource our churches and ministries need. This guide trains churches and ministries to protect from, prevent against, and rightly respond to child sexual abuse. The greatest asset this book offers is it empowers churches and ministries to form and customize their own child protection policy so as “to create a culture where children can flourish with healthy intergenerational relationships” (Tchividjian and Berkovits 15). As a pastor over the youth ministry of my church, I strongly encourage intergenerational relationships in the church. I also have a heart for youth to grow in their love for Jesus and for His church. So I understand the importance of what Basyle and Shira have done in writing this guide. In the church, we have a problem. We cannot ignore this problem. It is there. But what we can do is speak up for the most vulnerable and carry out a policy to protect them and care for them in our churches. I plan on encouraging our church to work through this timely guide and I challenge you to encourage your church or ministry to do the same!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.
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