Principles of a Child Safe Church: No 4  Diversity is Respected and Equity is Promoted.

For those who are following the gospel lectionary readings we are soon coming to the central section of Mark’s gospel. There we see the disciples constant misunderstanding of who Jesus is and the nature of the reign of God. In response we see Jesus’ patient teaching (mainly!) of the disciples, reminding them of the radical vision of community that is unfolding before their eyes. The disciples are still bound up with the inherited values of their wider culture, values like status and honour, and are slow to learn about how those of low status and high vulnerability are to be honoured in the community centred on Jesus. Thankfully Jesus doesn’t give up on his failing disciples.

I was reminded of this as I reflected on Principle 4 for being a child safe church. I rather like the way it is expressed in the newly published plain English version of the poster, “Everyone is respected and treated fairly”. (The poster is available from the National Safe Church Website.)  A principle that is hard to disagree with but harder to put into practice. The problem for all of us is that we have our blind spots. Moreover, not every child or family we deal with who have a different cultural background to our community or a person with a disability are going to be easy to work with or grateful for our efforts. So, we need to remind ourselves again of the example of Jesus and his vision of Christian community that calls to respect diversity and treat people fairly.

The following are some helpful tips from the National Office for Child Safety in fulfilling this principle:

  • Championing attitudes and behaviours that promote equity and diversity.
  • Building capacity through ongoing education and training.
  • Engaging with children and young people.
  • Engaging with families and communities.
  • Ensuring that information, policies and procedures are accessible.
  • Committing to ongoing monitoring, revision and improvement.

Further resources can be found on the website for the National Office for Child Safety.  Our team at Placements and Safe Church are also happy to assist in helping congregations, Church Councils or Family and Children’s Ministries Teams. Like many things in being a child safe church some of the initial work is hard but once we have made the necessary changes to become more accessible for diverse groups of people it starts to become our new culture. May you know grace and wisdom as you continue this journey.


Philip Gardner