A must-read for ministry leaders

By Rev Phil Gardner
Executive Officer, Pastoral Relations and Mission Planning

Posted in Culture

Rev Phil Gardner (Executive Officer, Pastoral Relations and Mission Planning) has written a review of Tim Hein’s new book, “Understanding sexual abuse: a guide for ministry leaders and survivors”, which was officially launched on Monday 30 April.

Tim Hein has written a very helpful and informative book for leaders of congregations about how to respond when survivors of sexual abuse disclose their experiences.

Tim has clearly done his research for this book, reading work from the significant practitioners in the field and engaging some of them in conversation, and talking to Safe Church Educators. His advice is sound and insightful. From the very first chapter, this is a must read for ministers and other church leaders!

But although the book is helpful in providing understanding for church leaders, it is more importantly a conversation with survivors of sexual abuse, particularly childhood sexual abuse.

Tim weaves together wisdom from writers in the field, in addition to theological reflection, insights from the wider culture, and personal experience. Throughout, there is a focus on the continuing journey toward wholeness and healing.

The book carefully explores the psychological and theological issues that create misunderstandings about sexual abuse in the life of the church and which can hamper the recovery of survivors, or even further wound them.

The discussion of the multiple layers of damage caused by abuse, the exploration of what recovery looks like, and the reflection on the place of anger and forgiveness in that journey are all very helpful indeed.

As well, there is a chapter on worship, especially on the place of lament that many leaders of worship would do well to read and reflect on.

Finally there is the gentle encouragement to take the small steps, in a myriad of ways, towards life.

This is a well-written, thoughtful book that will help church leaders, and the general reader, to understand more deeply the nature of sexual abuse and how the church might respond.

On a deeper level, it is an invitation to develop the kind of theological understanding, community and worship life where survivors might be welcomed and supported to continue to choose life.

“Understanding sexual abuse: a guide for ministry leaders and survivors” is available to purchase online from MediaCom, Koorong and Amazon, along with a number of other retailers (Google search the title for more information).

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