On the weekend of April 22-24 First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, Florida (FBCTLH) hosted several events to help their congregation and area churches understand abuse better and learn how to care well when someone confides their experience of abuse.
The weekend was comprised of three parts.
- Friday night FBCTLH hosted a dinner for area pastors.
- Saturday morning FBCTLH hosted a seminar for members and the community.
- Sunday morning FBCTLH focused its sermon and Sunday school on the subject of abuse.
This approach created a unique blend of raising awareness within their church and seeking to serve the churches/pastors in their surrounding community.
Friday night was a dinner for area pastors and their wives. During this time, we discussed how Romans 13 (governing authorities) and Matthew 18 (church involvement) should work cooperatively when responding to abuse. We overviewed the primary content from Lesson Two of the Church Cares curriculum. The main purpose of the presentation was to prime the pump for a Q&A so church leaders could ask questions about how to partner well with governing authorities and local counselors to care holistically for those who have experienced abuse.
Saturday morning was a traditional seminar event. We covered two main topics and had a Q&A after each. First, we discussed how to define abuse (article version of this content). Second, we considered why our guiding question in responding to abuse is so important. We will either ask:
- How would I want this situation to be responded to if I were the person accused of abuse? or
- How would I want this situation to be responded to if I were the person confiding my experience of abuse?
- Which question guides our thinking will determine whether we identify with the oppressor or the oppressed.
During this time, we also affirmed the social workers and others present who are weekly engaged with caring for abused.
Sunday was for the church-as-a-whole. Many Christians have never heard a sermon on abuse. Hence, most of us are unsure how to respond when conflict is dangerous, not just dishonoring. Does the Bible have more to say than, “Turn the other cheek?”
You might be curious what a sermon of this nature would sound like. FBCTLH was kind enough to allow me to post the video.
This layout did an excellent job of helping each population in their church and community take their next step in awareness.
- For area pastors, it gave them another opportunity for training and opportunity ask questions
- For those interested in learning more about caring well for the abused, it gave them a more in-depth learning environment.
- For the church-at-large, it ensured there was a wide spread awareness that the Bible recognizes abuse as being more than “slightly more intense normal conflict.”
I hope this outline of the events hosted by FBCTLH encourages other churches to look for ways to raise awareness about abuse.