Every week, the Christian Reformed Church’s Safe Church office receives calls from those who say they have experienced some form of abuse in their church.
“We regularly get calls from church leaders and churchgoers about abuse of power and other types of abuse in our churches,” said Amanda Benckhuysen, director of the Safe Church office. “Our job is to help you make your church a safer place.”
Churches have not always paid much attention to abuse prevention, but that changed when Synod 2019 passed a number of rules requiring classes and congregations to give abuse prevention higher priority.
At Inspire 2022, a denomination-wide worship and ministry event to take place Aug. 4-6 in Tinley Park, Ill., Benckhuysen will present a workshop on this topic. She will discuss the role of Safe Church, best practices for prevention and response, and the resources her office has to offer churches. She will also introduce the new Safe Church assessment tool, designed to help churches discern areas of risk and opportunity in abuse prevention.
“We are not the police,” Benckhuysen said. “We want to walk alongside people and churches and help them in the work of abuse prevention and response.”
This is just one of more than 80 workshops that will be shared during the three-day Inspire event. Other workshops will focus on evangelism, church planting, ecumenical relations, prison ministry, deaconing, worship, preventing pastor burnout, fostering faith formation in children, and much more.
Inspire 2022 also will host four plenary speakers, a concert by Sandra McCracken, and times of worship,and will offer plenty of time for people to mingle and talk together.
“Inspire is designed for anyone who is involved in ministry of any kind at a local congregation,” said Kristen deRoo VanderBerg, one of the event’s organizers. “Our goal is to equip and energize people so that they can go back to their churches rejuvenated to serve.”
To learn more or to register, visit crcna.org/Inspire.
About the Author
Chris Meehan is a freelance writer and commissioned pastor at Coit Community Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.