By TIMOTHY COCKES, Baptist Press
FORT WORTH, Texas. (BP) – MinistrySafe, a nonprofit focused on training churches to prevent sexual abuse, is helping develop training on how the abuse prevention landscape has changed due to the COVID pandemic 19.
The non-profit organization offers churches and other organizations that work with children a five-step safety program designed to protect children from abuse and create a safe environment for ministry.
Gregory Love, co-founder of MinistrySafe, said the pandemic has brought about a lot of change for churches.
âThe changes in our culture as a result of the pandemic have forced us to adapt,â Love said. “It has changed some of the fundamentals of how we minister, where we minister, and what technology we use for ministry or education.”
MinistrySafe training is used by many Southern Baptist churches. A number of state Baptist churches and conventions are planning events in partnership with the organization to address general abuse prevention as well as changes in prevention methods brought on by COVID-19.
The Village Church in Texas will be hosting abuse prevention training events over the next few weeks with help from MinistrySafe both at its Flower Mound campus (September 30) and its Denton campus (October 10).
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board will partner with MinistrySafe to host a child protection workshop in Duluth, Ga. On October 13, and the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions is hosting an online webinar related specifically to changes related to COVID in the abuse prevention landscape on October 5.
A link to register for the Alabama Baptist Mission Board webinar can be found here.
Love will speak at the webinar in Alabama and said he is grateful for the state’s continued partnership.
During the training, he will address two specific areas of concern brought on by the pandemic. Many of the current risks of sexual abuse result from children spending more time at home and more time using technology, he said.
It’s important for departments to know the pros and cons of specific technology and the use of certain apps, such as Snapchat, online games, and other social media apps, Love said.
Many of these apps are great for communicating with students at a distance, but Love pointed out the danger that some apps and games can present as they can give predators the ability to send students private messages or communicate in a way not open.
In light of the fact that children spend more time at home, Love said that âmost children are victimized in their home worldâ, that is, by a parent or someone they know. know.
Because much of the school and church ministry has taken place online over the past 18 months, Love said the children were unable to spend time with other adults outside of their homes, who are often those who notice the first signs of abuse. .
These new issues are areas that Love said churches need to be aware of in order to know how to respond appropriately.
“The problem (of sexual abuse) is ongoing but now presents new challenges, and one of those challenges is how predators have adapted to changes faster than we have adapted in prevention. “Love said. âWe just can’t believe safety is important until there is a pandemic, we have to understand that we change things according to our circumstances.
âIf we’re going to change our programs, then we have to know how to manage the risks that now exist with those programs. Find out which of these applications you are using, then what are the weaknesses of those applications, and if the risks outweigh the benefits of the communication offered.
Love said MinistrySafe’s goal is to work with different churches and organizations to explain how these new challenges in abuse should affect their prevention training, insurance information and how to provide an overall safe environment for them. children. The association is also working to update its video training to include topics related to changes resulting from COVID-19.
He expressed his gratitude for the churches trying to stay informed and prepared.
âWe’re going to break these concepts down and then put them right in front of them to let them know exactly what it means to you and what you’re doing about it,â Love said. âRelationship is the foundation of discipleship, and the church is supposed to be the safest place on the planet, but we’re never going to be accidentally successful (abuse prevention).
“I appreciate the Alabama Baptist Convention and many other groups who would trust us to be able to unbox this information and I’m glad they made it a priority.”