Things A Church Can Do to Address Domestic Violence

Looking for things your church can do to address domestic violence? Here are 31 ideas (one/day for Domestic Violence Awareness Month if you’re up for it) for you and your church that will make a difference. They range from simple to fairly ambitious, and we’ve separated them into activities that will help spread awareness and ones that require roll-up-your-sleeves involvement.

 

How churches can increase awareness about domestic violence

 

  1. Talk about domestic violence from the pulpit. Speaking about domestic violence from the pulpit, even if it is just a short reference, communicates 1) that it is not okay, and 2) that you are aware of the issue and are a good, safe resource for people to turn to for help.
  2. Discuss healthy relationships with teens. Take one night during youth group to discuss domestic violence by teaching on healthy relationships. Share with them behaviors that hurt others and the signs of an abusive relationship.
  3. Put a resource list in the bulletin. Listing domestic violence resources, such as the Domestic Violence Hotline phone number, or the name and phone number of a pastoral staff member who can help, signals that you care and are ready to assist.
  4. Invite a speaker to talk about healing. Statistics show there are lots of women and men who have been victims of domestic violence. Sadly, many of them remain victims long after the abuse stops because they haven’t healed. Invite a counselor or former victim who has experienced healing from abuse to share their testimony.
  5. Develop a sermon or sermon series. Domestic violence is a complex issue, and to understand its causes and cures takes time. A sermon or sermon series can provide an opportunity to go deeper into the topic and can teach not only God’s heart about the issue, but also how he heals. Alternatively, make the sermon or series about healthy dating and marriage relationships and cover domestic violence as one way that those relationships can miss the blessing God intended.
  6. Visit the Ananias faith-based pages. The faith-based pages on the Ananias Foundation website have a plethora of helpful information for churches and church leaders to equip you to better deal with domestic violence. We are particularly unique because we provide effective strategies for helping those who cause harm to change.
  7. Host a forum on domestic abuse. Sponsoring a forum, open to the community, that includes education on what domestic abuse is, its warning signs, and an introduction to agencies that can assist victims and their children elevates everyone’s level of awareness and preparedness.
  8. Post a resource list on your website. People often check out a church online before they ever enter its doors. A listing of domestic violence-related resources on your church website says that your church is relevant and cares about whatever hurts people in your congregation andoutside of the church are experiencing. Consider including a list of signs that indicate an abusive relationship. Share a link to the Ananias Foundation’s main website as a resource for those who cause harm.
  9. Encourage small group discussions. The intimacy of a small group is an excellent place for people to find challenge for behaviors that might be hurting others and healing from being hurt. Don’t miss that opportunity to let God work thought your small groups.
  10. Discuss domestic violence in men’s groups. Without making anyone identify themselves, encourage those who may be dealing with this issue (either as a victim or person causing harm) to seek help with instructions of how to get it.
  11. Discuss domestic violence in women’s groups. Without making anyone identify themselves, encourage those who may be dealing with this issue (either as a victim or person causing harm) to seek help with instructions of how to get it.
  12. Use social media to spread awareness. Social media reaches different people at different times and connects you to them outside of your worship space. Share a blog, highlight a meeting or study, or share a list of resources related to domestic violence on the church’s social media accounts. Like the Ananias Foundation page on Facebook and feel free to share any of our faith-based posts on your site as well.
  13. Get to know the Ananias website. The Ananias Foundation website provides guidance and encouragement for individuals who have been violent with their partner but who want to change. We incorporate proven therapy approaches and introduce them to a transformational relationship with God. It is a great place to send people looking for help. There they’ll find opportunities to download our Guidebook, to engage in an online group, and to sign up for the Weekly Dose of Encouragement.
  14. Host a men’s breakfast to equip them. Women need men to get involved in this issue, but many men aren’t sure what to do. A Men’s Leadership Breakfast can start the conversation and begin equipping men to work effectively. For broader engagement, we strongly suggest not making it a man issue. Just enlist men to oppose intimate partner violence in general.
  15. Highlight DVAM on your church sign. By referencing Domestic Violence Awareness Month on your church sign, the sign could just as well say, “We are a safe place for anyone experiencing domestic violence” because that’s what it will communicate.
  16. Invite a speaker to talk about change. Change is possible, and just hearing those words can be an invitation for individuals who have harmed their partner to start a journey of healing and change so they no longer hurt anyone, including themselves. Our founder, Michael Clark, is available for speaking engagements.
  17. Speak out against spiritual abuse. Preach, write, or share a blog on spiritual abuse with your congregation and how it misrepresents God’s heart. It is especially important that the church address this form of abuse.

 

Ways churches can impact domestic violence

 

  1. Fundraise for a domestic violence organization. Whether it is a local domestic violence shelter or a faith-based organization working to help those who cause harm to change, these organizations are on the front line of domestic violence work every day. You can help them by supporting them financially so they can continue their mission.
  2. Collect supplies for a shelter. Check with the shelter for their specific needs, but toiletries, baby supplies, food, and home furnishings for a new start are common needs.
  3. Pray for those affected. Pray for those in your congregation and community who may be dealing with domestic violence. Pray for the children, the one being harmed, and the one causing harm. Pray individually. Pray corporately. Pray, pray, pray!
  4. Highlight volunteer opportunities and encourage volunteers. People are more likely to volunteer for specific needs and positions when they are highlighted for them. Check with local domestic violence shelters for volunteer opportunities. For professionals wanting to donate their expertise to a faith-based organization addressing this issue, check out the Ananias Foundation’s volunteer page on our website.
  5. Create a dedicated church fund. A special fund that is available for helping families who experience a domestic violence crisis may need short-term help with housing, food, childcare, etc. Those resources may be the difference between that person and their children getting to safety or remaining in harm’s way.
  6. Check out our scriptural guide to transformation. The Bible has a lot to say about abuse, repentance, and healthy relationships. Use our scriptural guide to transformation as your reference in guiding those who cause harm into the life God intended them to have.
  7. Train your pastoral and counseling staff. Be sure you and your staff recognize and know how to respond to domestic violence situations. Ideally, have a point person who is the resident expert. Be prepared to help both the victim and effectively address the one who has caused harm.
  8. Establish a domestic violence policy. If you don’t already have one, a domestic violence policy is a must for every church. If you do have one, make sure all staff is intimately familiar with it. Make the policy available to the whole congregation.
  9. Serve as part of an accountability team. An accountability team is very helpful for anyone working to change behaviors that cause harm to their partners. That person’s counselor, a pastor, a lay leader, and a representative from the victim’s care team make for a strong unit.
  10. Survey members about domestic violence. Survey your church members (Survey Monkey works well) on how prevalent domestic violence is in their lives. Also, ask whether they see your church as a safe and helpful place to turn for help. Make adjustments based on what you learn.
  11. Share a book with those causing harm. Partner with jail chaplains by providing copies of Michael Clark’s book, From Villain to Hero with those arrested for domestic violence. All the proceeds from the book are used by the Ananias Foundation for our programs to reach those looking to change.
  12. Identify gaps in your training. Surveys show that about half of pastors feel ill equipped to address a domestic violence issue. Many especially struggle to know what do with the one who has caused harm. Work to fill that gap so you can be more effective and confident in addressing domestic violence when you encounter it.
  13. Partner with local counselors. The emotional support needed by those causing or affected by domestic violence can quickly overwhelm pastoral counseling resources. Identify counselors in your community that specialize in helping victims, but also those who have caused harm. Consider a referral and accompany model when the needs are great.
  14. Share your ideas with others. Do you have other ways you promote domestic violence awareness, serve victims, or minister to those who cause harm? Tell us about them and the results by sharing your story on our Contact form. We’d love to feature your church on our website or in our social media.