A central platform for speaking into the lives of church members is through the weekly message or sermon. Speaking about and providing spiritual reflection on the realities of abuse sends the message to congregants that the church IS a place to speak about these painful experiences. If nobody in your church has ever discussed their experience of abuse, it likely means that they have not received permission to do so.
The church ought to be a place that shines a light on the painful and dark aspects of life so that hope and healing can be experienced. The first step is always acknowledgement. Here are some suggestions and resources on how to preach about these topics:
- Invite a counsellor to speak about healing from abuse
- Host an evening session on hope and healing from abuse
- Teach and preach in ways that are sensitive to those who have experienced abuse. See “What Does the Bible Say” or “Created Equal” for ideas on how to speak to scripture passages that are sometimes interpreted to justify abuse or the marginalization of women.
- Be careful how the topic of forgiveness is presented. This can be very confusing for those who have experienced abuse. Be cautious of sending the message that to forgive means to accept violence against oneself. See ‘Forgiveness’ for further comments on how to make sense of forgiveness in light of abuse.
- Be careful about how language is used in preaching and worship. […use inclusive translations like the NIV, NLT, or NRSV]
- Teach and preach on equality and mutuality between men and women
100 messages on sexual violence – Sojourners
Troubling Texts: Domestic violence in the Bible – Sojourners
Sermon Outlines on Domestic Violence – R.A.V.E
Broken Silence 2.0: Pastor’s attitudes and actions around domestic and sexual violence in the #metoo era
See worship resources for more ideas on how to lead services on the topic of abuse