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Honor DVAM by Educating Your Church

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This is Part 3 of my series on how to honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One great way to further domestic violence awareness is in your church, with your pastor and elders (lay leaders of the church).

Most people have very little education about domestic violence, and this is true of your church leaders as well. Many Christians erroneously believe domestic violence doesn’t happen in the church. Sadly, the statistics for DV are no better among churchgoers (a fact supported by research, studies, and statistics in No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence, by Nancy Nason-Clark and Catherine Clark Kroeger). Because your pastor may wrongly believe domestic violence isn’t happening in your church, s/he may not feel the need to be educated about it.

A DV victim will likely not go to their pastor for help if they feel the pastor won’t be sympathetic toward them, or they may wait until their life is in serious danger. (Tweet This) If they DO eventually go to their pastor, and the pastor is uneducated about DV, the pastor will often tell a woman to “submit more” to her husband. This is dangerous advice, as it gives her abusive husband validation for his abusive behavior, putting her at even greater risk.

This is where you come in.

You can be a catalyst for change in your church, with your pastor and elders. Your church leaders will more likely listen to you than to someone outside your church, such as a DV advocate from a crisis center. You can encourage your leaders to become educated about DV by:

  • Reading books about domestic violence (See a list of books on my Get Help page)
  • Taking a class on DV at your local women’s crisis center, or even better
  • Offer a class to your leadership and congregation at your church
  • Check out my Domestic Violence Guide for Churches. This guide teaches church leaders about the dynamics of DV and educates them on how to help those who experience it. Click here to preview it.

Many crisis centers will send domestic violence advocates at no charge to give a presentation about DV.

In addition, you can encourage your pastor to:

  • Talk about DV from the pulpit
  • Give practical sermons that talk about relationships, and talk about mutual submission, not one person submitting to the other
  • Display DV materials around the church. One great place for these is in the women’s bathroom, where a woman can look them over without her abusive partner watching her.

If your church leadership becomes educated about DV, offers classes at the church, talks about it from the pulpit, and displays DV materials around the church, DV victims will be much more likely to go to your pastor for help. And when they do, they will much more likely receive information that could save their lives.

Once our churches become havens of safety for DV victims, we can follow God’s lead:

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling. (Psalm 68:5) 

and

The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. (Psalm 146:9).

May He continue to bless you.

Caroline

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