Association Calls for Prevention Commitment by Churches

Resolution calls pastors and church leaders to adhere to high ethical standards and establish practices to prevent misconduct and address accusations appropriately.

“The Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) approved a resolution at its semiannual meeting on March 7, 2019 lamenting the tragic violation of trust by ministers of the gospel who have sexually abused church members, and particularly children.

The resolution also calls pastors and church leaders to adhere to high ethical standards and establish practices to prevent misconduct and address accusations appropriately. … The NAE encourages pastors to sign the Code of Ethics for Pastors, church leadership teams to sign the Code of Ethics for Congregations and Their Leadership Teams, and all church leaders to:

  • Thoroughly vet all staff hires including rigorous background and reference checks;
  • Screen and provide child protection training to all volunteers who have access to children;
  • Establish confidential third party mechanisms for receiving reports of abuse;
  • Ensure that all members of the church community know how to report concerns;
  • Investigate reports promptly and thoroughly, without defensiveness;
  • Take decisive disciplinary action where violations have been corroborated; and
  • Offer pastoral care and support to those who have been affected by abuse of any kind.”

The Church Law & Tax take: The sexual abuse of a minor remains a perennial top reason churches go to court each year. Attorney Richard Hammar, recognizing the threat in the early 1990s, crafted Reducing the Risk, a turn-key screening, selection, and supervision program for churches to prevent abuse. This resource, which was recently updated, covers many of the recommendations made in the NAE resolution.

Matthew Branaugh is an attorney, and the content editor for Christianity Today's Church Law & Tax.

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