Pastors, Spiritual Leaders, Elders, Leaders of Faith Communities

What would you do if?


Twenty Five percent (25%) of your congregation became unemployed tomorrow?
Thirty three percent (33%) lost a child?
Thirty three percent (33%) were diagnosed with cancer?

Is it safe to assume your entire ministry focus would change?


Let's look at some real statistics that are affecting your congregations: 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

  • One (1) in three (3) women is a victim of domestic violence and is presently living with fear.  Her abuser hides flawlessly among the ranks of spiritual leadership, volunteerism, masking himself with false compassion, generosity, and family values.  According to the last poll done by LifeWay, 75% of Protestant Pastors underestimated the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence within their own churches despite acknowledging that domestic violence destroys families in epidemic numbers.

 

  • Many who abuse their wives also abuse their children.

 

  • 33% (Thirty Three and a third) of women in your church have reported domestic violence.  MOST WON'T.

  • As women of faith they are heaped with distorted messages such as "this is my cross to bear", "if I only submit, God will stop the abuse", "God hates divorce"...while God does hate divorce, according to Scriptures God hates violence and is the God of the afflicted, wounded and broken hear-ted.  It is time that the church becomes a place of healing for victims and accountability for offenders.

  • MOST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT REPORTED.  Domestic violence affects your church families even if you choose not to address it.  As a spiritual leader, you are not only called but mandated to shepherd and care for the “least of these”.  Certainly this pertains to those living in fear from the one who vowed to love and care for them as Christ loved the Church.

 

  • The March of Dimes has stated that domestic violence is the single largest cause of premature birth and birth defects.  We are such loud noise to spare the unborn child from death but not from violence.  This should not be.

 

  • Domestic violence is the single largest cause of injury to women more than car accidents, rapes, assaults, and other accidents.

 

  • Women are hit an average of 35 times before they make a single report; can you imagine how many years of non-physical abuse a woman bears with her children before she reaches out.  NO wonder most abuse isn’t reported.


What is DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: 

Domestic Violence is not just physical abuse.  Domestic Violence is best defined by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb as “a pattern of coercive, controlling, or abusive behavior that is used by one individual to gain or maintain power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship.,  This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, exploit, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound an intimate partner.”

Christian women are the most likely NOT to report domestic violence.  

As a spiritual shepherd, a pastor is uniquely positioned to bring comfort and offer challenge to those suffering in a home with domestic violence.  With minimally one in three women sitting in the pews suffering silently with spouses who verbally, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually abuse them and countless children who witness and live with this behavior, it is critical that a church and pastor understand the pain of a victim.  Whether it is an abused woman seeming help in her own or  a couple coming in together, the knowledgeable pastor will ensure that the woman tells her own story in her own words, out of the presence of the man who intimidate her or has violated her body.  For most couples, religious or not, violence is a strongly guarded secret.  What a wonderful means to minister also to a hurting community and lead them to the One we know alone can heal.How safe is your church?

Can you honestly say that your church is a refuge for those suffering silently in a domestic abusive marriage or relationship?  The time for quick fixes and minimizing statements to those brave enough to come forward must end.  Eighty (80%) percent of those murdered are by a spouse or boyfriend when they attempted to leave the relationship or marriage.

A wonderful opportunity awaits the pastor who is sensitive to the suffering of a battered woman and knowledgeable about the religious and secular resources to address her pain ad malaise.  The woman may need counsel that is beyond the pastor’s expertise to provide. (Couples counseling puts the woman in more danger.  For “Why Not Couples Counseling”, click here.) She may need legal counsel.  She may need to flee to the safety of a shelter.  Most certainly  she needs a caring church community and a pastor who offers spiritual and emotional support, wise counsel and appropriate referrals.

“The Lord is my life’s refuge, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)  Wounding and betrayal by someone who is loved or has been loved is the central theme of most abuse.  Like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, who was seeking shelter from the crowds and privacy to pray when Judas led the soldiers to his place of refuge, victims of battery are often assaulted in the very place where they have taught to expect rest, love and support…the family home.

Our churches are no place for abuse.  Our homes should be abuse free.  They should contain believers, regardless of gender and age, who resist physical force as a means of resolving disagreements and disappointments.  

Compassion is everyone’s business.  It needs to be encouraged and discussed in our congregations, where we see guidance, strength and support regardless of the storm.


 How Prepared Is Your Church to Serve Victims of Abuse?


Do you believe a victim no matter how farfetched her story is?  Do you take her fear and safety seriously despite the fact the man she just confided in you serves in your church and you just can't even imagine him behaving in such a way.  Abusers NEVER let their guard down.  Whatever you do, don't ever send someone away that gathers up the courage to come speak to you.  If you do, she may never reach out to anyone again.  Research has proven that just witnessing abuse can cause a lifetime of trauma.  You may feel overwhelmed.  You have just been informed that over 30 % of the women in your congregation have reported domestic violence at some point and that it took about 35 assaults on the woman to make that one report.  Most Christian women and religious women don't make reports.  They have had their view of themselves and God distorted through their abuse.  Don't lose hope.  There are many many things that spiritual leaders can do to make their church safe and protect their youth from what the world is trying to brainwash them into believing about relationships.  Even if you are a school teacher or counselor.  Please call, there are so many ways we can equip you to make a difference.  A difference for eternity.

Have Sermons Condemning Abuse in the Home Been Preached from the Pulpit?

 

  • Has the pastor ever preached a full message on abuse or family violence?

  • When families are discussed, does the pastor mention that most families DO NOT FIT standard cultural and church ideals for family life?

  • Do sermons identify biblical examples of all  the different types of abuse?  ie:  Physical, Emotional, Verbal, Spiritual, Financial

  • Are Scriptures that address a wife’s character and often used by abusers to justify their behavior and headship within the family properly taught from the pulpit?


Is Abuse Discussed in Premarital Counseling Programs?
 

  • Is printed material on abuse (such as brochures) given to all couples who under go premarital counseling prior to the wedding?

  • Are couples asked whether there has ever been an incidence of violence in their relationship?

  • Are couples educated no the various types of domestic abuse and given fair fighting guidelines?

  • Are couples mentored on how to deal with anger and disappointment?

  • Is dating violence discussed in youth groups?

 

  • Has the youth pastor been informed about the prevalence and severity of dating violence even among church?

  • Has the issue been raised from time to time in youth meetings, together with suggestions on how to respond to violence and how to help friends who have been abused?

  • Has information on dating violence been provided in a place where a teen can see it in privacy?

 

OTHER SUGGESTIONS:

Are safety mechanisms in place?

 

  •  Are there people in the congregation who are aware of the important safety issues for women and children in your area?

  •  Who can be called on short notice if there is an emergency facing a family in your congregation?

  • Have abuse victims been counseled to ensure that they have made some advance preparations in case they need to leave their home quickly?

  • Are there any members who are trained to provide emergency services?

  •  Does the church have a support group for victims of violence?

  • Have you asked the shelter about its needs?

  • Has a contact been made between the women’s organizations in your church and the nearest
    shelter for battered women?

  • Has the pastor ever called the shelter to inquire how the church might assist in its work (e.g.,
    painting a room, moving a woman and her children, childcare, food treats at Christmas,
    spiritual counseling)?

  • Do you know the domestic violence workers in your community by name?

  • Does the pastor know the location of the nearest community shelter for battered women?

  • Has the church established some contact with at least one worker at the shelter?

  • If there are no community based housing resources, has the congregation itself made some
    provision for emergency shelter?

  • Is information available in safe locations?

  • Where is the safest location in your building to place information that abuse victims can look
    at in privacy (such as the washrooms)?

  • What information can be offered to women in immediate crisis or those in relationships that
    are sometimes abusive?

  • Is a contact name and phone number provided on the literature?



So, how safe is your church?  Call right now for a free consultation and presentation to see how we can equip you and your church to be a refuge for those suffering.  Call us at 1-417-731-8354 or email Dr Regina Baldwin at drbaldwin@pas-dvsolutions.org or drbaldwin@biblicalinterventions.com.

At the very least, please put literature in private places such as restrooms so those who need help can reach out and know that you are there to  support them.


MENTAL ILLNESS


One in four individuals sitting in your pews has a diagnosable treatable mental illness.  Many call mental illness “the no casserole illness” because those with mental illness and their families suffer with no community or church support.

26% of American adults and 25% of teens will be diagnosed with some form of mental illness this year.  Many turn to clergy initially for help and unfortunately have their pain and malaise minimized or over spiritualized.

Does Jesus still heal?  Absolutely.  Does He heal all illnesses instantly? NO.  Does He give those with physical and mental illness the Grace and Mercy to endure?  YES.


STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION:  GO TO "MENTAL HEALTH & THE CHURCH" FOR MORE INFORMATION 

ADDICTION AND SPIRITUAL LEADERS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION.  FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO "Addiction in the Church".