Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
The #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements have raised the awareness of sexual harassment and abuse against women (men are also affected but not to the same degree), not only in our culture but in the church.
Based on the statistics, one in four women and one out of six men are sexually abused in their lifetime, while eight in ten women and four out of ten men have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. Based on those figures, consider the numbers of those who have been affected in the realm in which you minister.
In a survey conducted by LifeWay Research, two-thirds of pastors say domestic or sexual violence happens in the lives of people in the church. This issue is being discussed more than in the past, which is a good thing to bring these things out into the light. However, one-half of the pastors surveyed said they lack training in how to address sexual and domestic violence.
Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, writes, “One story of sexual harassment, abuse, or anything related is one too many, and leaders in the house of God must be equipped and encouraged to address the tragedy of sexual violence and harassment head on. This is an essential issue and we cannot sweep it under the rug. The way we respond to those who have been harmed at the hands of others is a direct reflection of our true faith. There is no way around it.” Many, including me, echo these words.
In order to help pastors, leaders and those in the church to understand and be better equipped to address these matters, the Billy Graham Center is hosting a one-day Summit on Responding to Sexual Violence. Their desire is to “challenge and inspire the church to address sexual violence, harassment, and abuse.” The Summit is scheduled for December 13 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and will be held on the Wheaton campus. They are also livestreaming the Summit.
Here is a brief description of the Summit on the registration site:
Reflections: A GC2 Summit on Responding to Sexual Violence is a one-day evangelical conversation which will challenge and inspire pastors, leaders, and lay Christians to address the very real tragedy in our churches and to begin the healing process of being who God designed all of us to be. We will bring together top leaders today to address what the Bible says about this tragedy, the destruction of silence, how to protect those who are vulnerable and victimized, the role of accountability in leadership, and much more.
I encourage you to consider the Summit as a learning/training resource. For those who register but are unable to attend all the sessions, they will also be given access to the recorded messages after the Summit. I sent this information to a number of the ministry teams with whom I serve. We are also livestreaming the Summit at the national office.
We desire to listen and learn about sexual harassment and abuse, along with fellow EFCA sisters and brothers. We do this with a commitment to affirm and live out the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ in both belief and behavior, in both doctrine and practice, in both what we affirm and how we live. The gospel of Jesus Christ is our hope.
For those who have experienced sexual harassment or abuse in your past, please speak with someone who can provide loving counsel and guidance. Ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ are committed to come alongside to walk with you to healing and wholeness, with and through the transforming presence, power, and promise of the Holy Spirit.