A Theology of Safeguarding

On behalf of the voiceless

‘Speak out on behalf of the voiceless, and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.'  Proverbs 31:8

Christian scriptures tell us that in order to stay true to its divinely directed course, the church needs the word-based ministry of 'apostles, teachers, pastors, prophets and evangelists' (Ephesians 4:9-15). Amidst the storms of distraction and winds of unhelpful trends and fads, the church charts its way forward first and foremost by holding on to the word of God, rightly understood and properly applied through vitally relevant theological reflection, discernment and insight.

If theology is to the church as a compass is to sailors in a storm, then safeguarding is the true north of all the helpful service the church has to offer. Together they must set the direction of all Christian ministry.

We've worked with respected christian Theologian Dr Krish Kandiah to explore what the Bible has to say about the Christian responsibility to protect vulnerable people and have used this to create a theology of safeguarding to guide and direct all that we do.

The Bible gives us a clear mandate, motivation and mission to ensure that those who are or may be vulnerable are heard, defended, and treated appropriately, effectively, fairly and compassionately. In our ministries, education, leadership, families and communities and in the attitudes and actions that underpin our systems and structures, we must speak up for them. Our theology must be worked out in best safeguarding practice for all.

Every generation must play its part in caring for vulnerable people.

The book of Proverbs ends as it began with wisdom being passed on from one generation to the next. This model is preserved in Scripture to authorise us to teach wisdom afresh for every generation. There are three important considerations for a theology of safeguarding based on this intergenerational mandate: Spiritual and Familial Connections; Victim/Survivor and Voice Considerations; and Prohibitive and Positive Concerns.

Every leader must pursue God’s purpose and priorities for vulnerable people.

The wisdom given in Proverbs to a King challenges all leaders. The Bible’s unequivocal articulation of God’s concern for vulnerable people should motivate Christians to take safeguarding responsibilities very seriously, especially those who are in positions of power, influence and responsibility. There are three important implications for leadership that comes from this theology of safeguarding mandate:The nature of leadership; The priority of leadership; and the focus of leadership.

Every means must be employed to keep vulnerable people safe, heard and noticed.

The wisdom given throughout Proverbs is very practical and has universal application. When instructing Christians how to put faith into practice, the Bible reiterates these practical steps of caring for vulnerable people and those in distress. There are three important functional aspects of the outworking of the theology of safeguarding: Advocacy for vulnerable people; Defending the rights of vulnerable people; and to Dignify the destitute.

We've devised our theology of safeguarding to be a 'live' and working document that we can build on and develop as our understanding grows, and we would love you to be a part of that. We'd like to hear your thoughts and feedback to help us grow in a better understanding of these areas. You can get in touch using the contact us form on our website.


A theology of safeguarding

Download 'On behalf of the voiceless: a theology of safeguarding' as a pdf.

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"Christians in all organisations must be attentive to what the Bible has to say about safeguarding in our different areas of work and ministry if we are going to be faithful and effective. I am excited that thirtyone:eight are seeking to ground their vital work on biblical principles

Dr Krish Kandiah

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