Although my life is remarkably easy and privileged, I experienced some difficulties a while ago, and I bring that up because – in a conversation yesterday with my coach, I heard words that brought enormous physical and spiritual relief: “You’re safe now.”
I’m safe now.
Like anyone who’s ever experienced trauma or any life-jolting incident, I am occasionally triggered by random encounters. My heart races. I toss and turn at night. But I’m safe now. When I say that to myself, my heart slows and I sleep very soundly.
Part of being The Church is making the world safer for God’s children.
Some congregations have policies created to make people safer:
- Live Shooter policies
- Gun-Free Zone policies
- Background check policies
- Boundary training policies
- Playground policies
But policies are no match for culture. The culture of a congregation is what makes a community feel safe, much more than policies and procedures.
- Do we have a culture of gossip, bullying, or gas lighting?
- Do we have a culture that shames people?
- Do we have a culture that allows people to be imperfect (or even a hot mess?)
- Do we have a culture that takes risks to protect somebody? (I see you Sanctuary Churches.)
If we can’t feel safe in Church or in church-related institutions, our very souls are damaged and it makes Jesus weep.
The Church is called to be a community that’s different from the world. The world is often ugly and mean and dangerous, but how soothing it is to hear the words, “You are safe now” while surrounded by people who exemplify the love of God.