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Check the Box or Build the Body? Why Legal and Psychological Care are an Important Part of the Mission

member care of missionariesBrent, sometimes your area and mine — human resources and crisis management — are seen as necessary but dull policy stuff that must be taken care of, but are boring and irrelevant to the mission. I disagree — I see healthy psychological and legal services as building up the body of Christ. Member care and crisis management should be embraced as a component of Christian community and the love that marks Christians.

For instance, foundational mission documents should articulate the vision of the mission. Training and preparation should candidly acknowledge the risks and prepare personnel in detail. All of this should be clearly documented, because this is the standard of care in the information age.

Once personnel have been trained and understand the risks, they should formally accept that risk. Waivers of liability should be extensive and cover a variety of situations, but need not be just a legal statement of release. Instead, they can also acknowledge the vision and calling. Legal statements can say that some things are worth suffering and even dying for. People who are prepared to be martyrs if necessary can waive rights to a lawsuit as an appropriate response to death or injury from outside forces, such as disease, riots, or terrorism.

The mission should continue its ongoing responsibility with careful member care, well up to contemporary standards, that protects personnel and children. Child protection is a critical issue in most organizations. Accountability in tough situations where there is failure or sin will help to prevent more problems and fulfill the duty of care.  

When a crisis develops, the organization continues to follow its vision. Public statements in crisis situations should support and explain the vision. The legal and psychological team serving the missions organization both everyday and in crisis should share and seek to implement the vision.

This will help us develop organizations that are exciting to work in and are a powerful testimony to how Christians live.

Brent, I know we share a vision of the work of the psychological and legal team.  I'd be interested in hearing what issues are coming up currently for you and for your clients.

Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion

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