The Rock and the Hard Place Blog

Often a mission wants a family to come to us for counseling, but the family doesn't want to. While we have had lots of success stories with these people who felt they were dragged to us, I have wondered about the “legality” of this push to get help…

Therapeutic processes and legal processes are different. Certain things are appropriate in the therapeutic process that are not acceptable in a legal process. Absolute factual accuracy is not the primary goal of therapy. In the world of an investigation, with livelihood and organizational survival on the line, impartial factual accuracy is very important.  

Although there are many lessons from the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, the largest lesson may be how easy it is for an organization to fail to act appropriately when there are allegations. 

We’ve learned a lot from the Catholic sexual abuse scandal about good practices on preventing child abuse and investigating allegations. We’ve also learned a lot about how sexual abuse litigation works. You might say litigation is the worst case scenario for the organization when child protection issues haven't been adequately addressed. 

A policy not followed is worse than no policy at all. A policy tells the world what you believe is a reasonable standard of care. If you then don't follow it, you're condemned out of your own mouth. 

Theresa, I got stuck in a problematic place in my leadership a number of years ago. I was concerned about staff behavior that was counter to maintaining good and complementary relationships. I wanted a policy that I could use ... 

Brent, you are right perception makes a huge difference. You’ve brought up the idea of ritualizing this “consent” as part of the milestones of moving into missionary service. That is... 

Theresa – Clearly articulating the vision throughout the life of the missionary, and “ritualizing” it into the developmental milestones (such as a local church dedication service) creates an awareness in all the parts (the church, supporters, family, mission) of the multiple possible futures of this mission life... 

Brent, 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... 

I became a leader last century – actually, in the closing decades of the last century! Back then, and earlier, there were already lots of lawsuits amongst Christians and churches, but I was blissfully ignorant. I operated from the assumptions that I just needed to try my best and nothing bad would happen.