Article

What is the Caring Well Challenge?

Jun 6, 2019

The American church is facing an abuse crisis. Is your church doing all it can to be safe for survivors and safe from abuse?  

What is the Caring Well Challenge?  

The Caring Well Challenge (CWC) is a unified call to action on the abuse crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention. The goal is to equip churches to be safe for survivors and safe from abuse. It provides churches with an adaptable and attainable pathway to immediately enhance their efforts to prevent abuse and care for abuse survivors.  

We urge all Southern Baptist churches to commit to taking the challenge over the next year as an important next step in addressing the crisis of abuse. Beginning at the SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, churches will commit to the challenge and find resources for the initiative at caringwell.com.  

The centerpiece of the Caring Well Challenge is your church’s commitment to empower a Caring Well Team to lead a year-long effort to enhance how your church addresses abuse. Tools and training will be provided throughout the Caring Well Challenge to give your church the resources it needs to take each step. The eight steps involved are—Commit, Build, Launch, Train, Care, Prepare, Share, and Reflect.  

Is your church ready to commit to the Caring Well Challenge?  

What’s involved in the Caring Well Challenge?  

The Caring Well Challenge is a 12-month, eight-step process of listening, learning, assessing, and launching needed initiatives to ensure that your church is safe for survivors and safe from abuse. Each church that takes the Caring Well Challenge would commit to these eight steps—Commit, Build, Launch, Train, Care, Prepare, Share, and Reflect.  

Here are more details about each step:

1. Commit: Commit to the Caring Well Challenge

The first of the eight steps in the challenge is simple. Sign up for the Caring Well Challenge so that you get updates throughout the year on what your church needs to be doing next and aids to accomplish your next steps.  

For the sake of the most vulnerable in our churches and community, we ask you to take this challenge. If your church is ready to commit, you can sign up here.  

2. Build: Build a Caring Well Team to lead your church’s effort

Your second step is vital for an initial commitment to become more than good intentions. We are asking you to build a “Caring Well team” to coordinate your church’s efforts in the remainder of this campaign.  

This team should be comprised of a small group of key leaders from your pastoral staff, student ministry, children’s ministry, women’s ministry, or marriage ministry. This Caring Well team will ensure that the remaining steps are achieved.  

If you have church members with a background in social work, law enforcement, counseling, or education—fields experienced in responding to abuse—they would make excellent team members. If you have a church member who has experienced abuse, and is far enough along in their recovery for this to be a healthy experience for them, they would offer an immensely valuable perspective.  

3. Launch: Launch the Caring Well Challenge

Your entire congregation needs to know your church is taking the Caring Well Challenge. August 25, 2019, is the Sunday when churches embracing the challenge will officially launch and explain their efforts. Though August 25, 2019, is the date most churches will launch the challenge, you are welcome to select another Sunday if a similar date works better for your church’s calendar.

The third step is to set aside time during your Sunday services to do four things:

  1. Acknowledge the need for churches to grow in their awareness about, prevention of, and response to incidents of abuse. For survivors in your church, this may be the first time they’ve heard people in leadership acknowledge the need to grow in an area that has so radically impacted their life.
  2. Explain the Caring Well Challenge so that your church knows what you will be doing over the next year.
  3. Introduce your Caring Well team so that your church knows who will be leading the effort over the next year.
  4. Pray for (a) those who are processing their own experience of abuse, (b) your church’s Caring Well team, commissioning them, and (c) for the church at large to grow in this area.

Resources on this step will be sent to every church that signs up and will be available soon to help you conduct this portion of your service with clarity, compassion, and excellence.  

4. Train: Train your team at the 2019 ERLC National Conference

Before your church begins to implement changes, it is important to ensure that your leaders are well trained on the issue of abuse. The fourth step in the challenge is to equip your Caring Well team through the 2019 ERLC Caring Well Conference on October 3-5, 2019, in Dallas.  

Your team will have the opportunity to listen to survivors, learn from experts, and leave equipped with an understanding of the full spectrum of abuse issues. Everything about this conference is designed with the intent of equipping your Caring Well team.  

This conference will also be available online, so travel will not be an obstacle for anyone wanting the training. Churches are also encouraged to pursue additional training from state conventions, associations, and other partners.  

The conference will equip your Caring Well team with the tools it needs to lead your church effectively through the Caring Well Challenge. Register your team today.  

5. Care: Equip leaders through Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused

It is not enough for your Caring Well team to be the only members of your church equipped to care well for the abused. The entire leadership structure of church—paid staff and key volunteers—needs to be equipped to care well.

When a survivor of abuse is ready to confide his or her experience to someone in your church, that individual will talk with whomever he or she trusts most. That is why everyone in key roles at your church needs a basic level of training.

Step five is for your pastoral staff to go through the Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused curriculum. This is a free 12-video curriculum. Each video is 20 minutes and is available in English and Spanish. At the conclusion of the training your pastoral staff will be advised to send select videos to key lay leaders in your church.

Read more about the Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused curriculum.  

6. Prepare: Enhance policies, procedures, and practices related to abuse

One of the main reasons your church is committing to the Caring Well Challenge is because it desires to do all it can to ensure that it is safe from abuse. This sixth step in the challenge seeks to prepare your congregation to prevent abuse.  

Whether your church has extensive systems for abuse prevention or is just at the early stages, every church can benefit from an effort to review and enhance its prevention practices, policies, and procedures.  

In this sixth step, your Caring Well team will evaluate your church’s policies designed to prevent abuse—both the policies you have on record and the actual implementation of those in practice.  

7. Share: Dedicate Sunday services to address abuse

Every successful journey has a beginning and conclusion. The same is true for the Caring Well Challenge. While the commitment to safety and excellent care persists, your congregation needs to know what came from the Caring Well Challenge they heard about back in August.

Step seven is to dedicate your Sunday services on May 3, 2020, or a similar date, to focus on the subject of abuse and highlight the results of your efforts in the Caring Well Challenge. Though May 3, 2020, is the date most churches will conduct Caring Well Sunday, you are welcome to select another Sunday if a similar date works better for your church’s calendar.

During this service you will have the opportunity to do four things:

  1. Equip your church to understand what the Bible says about abuse and the refuge God wants His church to be.
  2. Allow your Caring Well team to review the outcomes from each of the elements in the Caring Well Challenge.
  3. Acknowledge the continued need for growth in this area. We want to always be improving in how we prevent and care for the abused.
  4. Pray for those who are still healing from abuse and that God would allow the effects of the Caring Well Challenge to be lasting in the churches that participated. 

8. Reflect: Reflect on the Caring Well Challenge at the 2020 SBC Annual Meeting

What you did as a church on May 3, 2019, we want to do as a denomination at the 2020 Annual Meeting in Orlando. As a denomination, we want to resolve to continue our collective work to make our churches safe for survivors and safe from abuse.  

To help us do this we will ask you to do two things as the Caring Well Challenge reaches a conclusion:  

  1. Let us know you completed the Caring Well Challenge.
  2. Share stories with us of how it impacted your church and what you learned in the challenge.

How can you sign up to take the challenge?  

Visit caringwell.com to learn more and sign up!  

Churches should be a refuge for those who have experienced abuse. But, too often, survivors haven't found the protection they deserve and the care they need from the church. Our churches should also be places that are safe from abuse. Are you ready to join us in changing this by committing to the Caring Well Challenge?  

Phillip Bethancourt

Phillip Bethancourt is Executive Vice President of the ERLC. He leads the ERLC team to develop innovative strategies to equip churches to address the key moral and ethical issues of the day. He completed an MDiv and PhD in Systematic Theology at Southern... Read More

J.D. Greear

J.D. Greear is the pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and the 62nd president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Read More