A biweekly look into the behind-the-scenes of the life and operation of a church. Waiting Tables exists to help ease logistical hurdles to free your church to focus on its mission.
Episode 13: Preventing Child Abuse with Deepak Reju
Find the show notes and more at https://waiting-tables.com.
Q. Why did you write this book?
Deepak: There are a few reasons why I studied the subject and wrote this book.
First, as a pastor who supervises our children’s ministry and youth staff, I was surprised at how little information was available to help us think about preventing abuse in church settings. And what little was available was out of print. I read and studied in order to help our local church think about how to build a better firewall to prevent child abuse.
Second, as a pastor of counseling, I once had a chance to talk to Dr. Anna Salter, who is one of the nation’s leading experts on sexual offenders. I asked her about her thoughts on how churches handle sexual abuse…and well, let’s just say she was very clear on how churches do a poor job in preventing and responding to child abuse. That put an idea in my head that something needed to be written.
Third, and finally, I was at a conference geared at helping churches prevent child abuse, and I was surprised that the only people speaking were psychologists and lawyers, none of whom had ever worked at a church before. They said a lot of helpful things, but they were some things I felt like they didn’t “get” because they were not coming from the perspective of working on the inside of a church. Somebody needed to say something from the perspective of a pastor who spends his days laboring inside of a church.
All of these reason conspired together to make me write the book.
Q. Is child abuse in the church really a problem? Why is it such a pressing need today?
Deepak: To get a greater sense of the problem, a quick statistical overview of child abuse is helpful:
There are approximately 747,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S. alone.[^fn1]
There are more than 100,000 sexual offenders who fail to report every year.[^fn2]
As many as one in three girls and one in four boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood.[^fn3]
Approximately thirty percent of all cases are reported to authorities—meaning that seventy percent never get proper attention or prosecution.[^fn4]
Over 63,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in 2010.[^fn5]
Offenders typically prey on children they know, not strangers. Most perpetrators are acquaintances, but as many as forty-seven percent are family or extended family.[^fn6]
Almost half (forty-seven percent) of the offenders who sexually assaulted victims under age six were family members, compared with forty-two percent of who assaulted youth ages six through eleven, and twenty-four percent who assaulted juveniles ages twelve through seventeen.[^fn7]
The Department of Justice reports that children under age twelve make up half of all victims of forced sodomy, forced fondling, or sexual assault with an object.[^fn8]
Numerous experts have made it clear that sexual predators often have not just one or two victims, but dozens. The Abel and Harlow Child Molestation Prevention Study found that each child molester averages twelve child victims and seventy-one acts of molestation. An earlier study by Dr. Gene Abel found that out of 561 sexual offenders interviewed there were more than 291,000 incidents involving more than 195,000 total victims. This same study found that only three percent of these sexual offenders have a chance of getting caught.[^fn9]
A 2007 FBI report states the following:
One out of five girls will be sexually molested before her eighteenth birthday;
One out of six boys will be sexually molested before his eighteenth birthday;
One out of every seven victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies was under age six; and
Forty percent of the offenders who victimized children under age six were juveniles (under eighteen).[^fn10]
Episode 12: Church Finance 101 with Eric Syfrett
I speak with Eric Syfrett about the basics of finances for churches. After earning degrees in economics and accounting, Eric became the children's and an accountant at his church. He now serves as the Executive Pastor of Kings Park International Church.
Many pastors and church leaders have little-to-no training in the specifics of church finances and are required to learn on the job. Managing church finances not only requires biblical wisdom and financial practices, it also requires conformity to legal requirements.
Eric talks about how churches are stewards of the gifts God has given them, and thus are called to handled their money well. This requires communicating with our congregations about our needs and how the finances will be used; it requires protocols and accountability for handling money as it comes it so that we are above reproach; it requires careful budgeting and continual expense control.
In a day when we continually hear about church financial scandals, Pastor Syfrett offers refreshing, biblical wisdom on effective church financial management.
You can find out more about Waiting Tables at waiting-tables.com.
Episode 11: Managing Church Projects using Basecamp with Seth Houser
In this episode, I talk with Seth Houser ways in which ministry projects can be effectively managed. Seth’s serves as a summer camp director for a Christian camp in the Smoky Mountains, and he also serves as an elder in his local church body.
Seth shares how the leadership of his church adopted Basecamp as a tool for organization, communication, and collaboration.
Using software can help you delegate projects, keep track of projects once delegated, and remind those who've taken them on of their responsibility. Having a way to keep track of what has been decided in meetings and what thought processes you went through to get to that point is invaluable. If someone in your congregation comes to you asking about a specific topic that has been debated and decided upon, you can draw on those records to walk them through explaining the thought process behind the decision.
You can find links mentioned in this episode and all our other episodes at waiting-tables.com.
Episode 10: Keeping Kids Safe at Church with Josh Navey
In this episode, I speak with Josh Navey, children's pastor at Summit. He is involved in ministering to the children of Summit, from birth to the fourth grade level.
Three different kinds of child safety are discussed in this episode:
Physical Safety at Church from Intruders
Sexual Abuse Prevention
Safety from Natural Disasters and Fire
Child abuse is the #1 reason that churches are taken to court.
Having a child safety policy in place, even if you are a small church, is important. Look online for child safety policies. In some cases, if insurance companies see that you have a policy in place, it could affect your rates positively, depending on what that policy is.
Two important things to enforce when allowing workers to interact with the children:
Background checks on all workers 18 years and older. Accufax and other companies can do background checks for you. Make sure these checks are updated every 3-5 years. Be aware that there are rules on how the background check reports can be stored properly; the company you choose to run the checks should be able to help you so this properly.
2 adult rule: No one is ever left alone with any child/children. Even if there is only one child needing care, two adults must accompany at all times.
Consider the design of your building and how it affects child safety. Some recommendations include:
Making sure every full door has a window in it.
Using Dutch style doors that keep the children in, keep those outside fenced away from the children, but allow visual access to the room is a great practice.
Also, have a secure system for making sure each child is reunited with the correct adult.
How can parents work to keep their children safe?
Serve in the children's ministry!
Teach kids about their bodies.
Joyfully honor and respect the rules in place at your church. Be aware that lacking a cheerful spirit in doing so says that the workers enforcing the rules care more about your child's welfare than you do.
To prepare for an emergency situation like an active shooter intruding, a natural disaster, or a fire, make sure that each room is equipped with a map detailing an exit plan. Make sure that the workers know that it is there.
Episode 9: Personal Mission Statements and Productivity with Tim Challies
I speak with Tim Challies, author and pastor, about his book Do More Better. Tim helpful frames productivity in a Christian worldview, and his little book is very helpful for church leaders who have to juggle a breadth of responsibilities and priorities.
Tim Challies defines productivity as
Productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.
As Christians, we should strive to be good stewards of our time and energy out of our love of God and love for others. A systematic approach to productivity is not an end to itself, but a outworking of the greatest commandment.
An understanding of productivity needs to begin with an understanding of the reason you exist. Productivity is not what will bring purpose to your life, but what will enable you to excel in living out your existing purpose.
Tim Challies in Do More Better
Productivity and Personal Mission Statements
I talk with Tim about how he has found it helpful to write mission statements for the various areas of responsibility in his life: church, family, work, etc. These mission statements help him prioritize his time and focus on doing the right things. He's written a brief "productivity worksheet" that you can use to help organize your responsibilities and missions.
Your primary pursuit in productivity is not doing more things, but doing more good. Generally speaking, you can do more good for others if you have fewer roles and projects than if you have more.
Tim Challies in Do More Better
Tools for a productive life
In Do More Better, Tim talks about the three essential tools for his productivity workflow:
Task management tool. A task management tool enables you to capture and organize your projects and tasks.
Scheduling tool. A scheduling tool enables you to organize your time and notifies you of pending events and appointments.
Information tool. An information tool enables you to collect, archive, and access information.
We discuss the value of those tools and why it's worth paying money for good tools.
In 2017, nearly everyone is using email in all parts of their life. Many (if not most) churches use email for decision making among leadership leaders, for coordination of volunteers, for updating the congregation.
Tim's book has a helpful appendix on taming your email. In this episode, we have a brief discussion of email. We review Tim's 4 step workflow for handling new emails, and we talk about why email makes a bad todo list.
Consistency is Key
All of this will only be valuable if you apply it consistently. After listening to the interview, take some time to read carefully through Do More Better.
Episode 8: Church Video on a Budget with Josh Byers
I talk with Josh Byers about his recent blog post Church Video on a Budget of $1000. Josh explains how to use a DSLR camera, a microphone, and basic lighting for recording "basic interviews, testimonies, life stories and other video productions your church may have."
Here's a video from Josh's team:
A few years ago, it would've required a huge budget and a professional team to produce a video like that. Josh talks about how you can get the basic equipment for just over $1000.
Three Point Lighting
Three point lighting is a standard technique for illuminating a subject in video or photos. This technique is one of the best things you can do to give video a professional look.
Here's a tutorial explaining three point lighting: