Getting Started: How Do We Get Buy-In for Becoming Safer?
There must be a perceived safety or boundary issue, or need, that is generating a certain amount of emotional energy. For leadership, one of the keys to this is passion: if the leadership does not seem to care, the congregation will not bother to care. This requires more than simply listing the tasks and policies needing to be created. People must understand the necessity of this work on an emotional level. There must be a sense of urgency. The leadership must be prepared to convey what the stakes are, why the ministry of safety is so important, and how the lack of commitment to safety is irresponsible and puts the congregation at risk.
Implementing Policies and Plans
Once the plan to move forward with this work is developed and approved, ongoing communication is critical. Congregational leaders should share relevant information with key staff and volunteers and make sure they get periodic training.
The rollout of any new policies may upset some members of the congregation. When one congregation introduced new screening policies and background checks for volunteers working with children and youth, some longtime volunteers questioned whether the policies went too far. The minister explained that the policies were developed with one thing in mind—protecting the children, youth, and adults in the congregation. The questions slowly gave way to understanding.