The Church of God in Toronto fully recognizes its responsibility to provide safe, enjoyable and spiritually rewarding experiences for children who attend its activities. As we seek to introduce children to the importance and value of Christian discipleship through a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we have Him before us as our example, He who actively encouraged children to relate to Him, embracing them and blessing them ( Mark 10 v 13-16 ). (to see the references hover over them with your cursor, or click on them)
His teachings, recorded in the Bible, set a high standard of personal morality and conduct for those who are His disciples. Not only are Christians to be subject to laws introduced by governments to which we are subject ( Romans13:1 ), we are to aim for the higher standard of being imitators of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 10:32-11:1). In all our interactions with all people, we are to be “imitators of God” ( Ephesians 5:1), to conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” ( Philippians 1:27 ), and to “avoid every kind of evil” ( 1 Thessalonians 5:22 ). In all things we are to be “…blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which we shine like stars in the universe…” ( Philippians 2:15 ). Therefore, “… there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” ( Ephesians 5:3). Rather we are to “…do good to all people…” ( Galatians 6:10 ), “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” ( Ephesians 2:10). Even things which are acceptable or excused under the law may not meet the approval of God’s word, and we are subject to the latter. For instance, certain sexual sins have come to be accepted in the world at large, but fornication, adultery and homosexuality are forbidden for us by the enduring standard of the Scriptures ( Romans1:18-32). We are especially concerned to reflect the highest standards of love, care and support for children which the Jesus Himself demonstrated and which are powerfully illustrated in His condemnation of those who would harm them: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” ( Matthew 18:6). Such Scripture passages present a viewpoint of abuse that is stronger than is seen in purely legal guidance.
In such matters we do not have liberty to ignore either wrongdoing or the opportunity to do the right thing ( James 1:21; 4:17). We are under obligation to God to actively protect the vulnerable and innocent ( Jeremiah 22:3; Acts 20:35; 1 Thessalonians 5:14), which cannot be achieved by only a passive recognition of their need ( James 2:15-17). Therefore, in addition to recognizing the importance of legal responsibilities the church must operate in accordance with effective procedures that aim to reduce the risk of children in our care being exposed to possible harm, danger or abuse. Such procedures should also aim to provide training and protection for our workers; they seek to serve the Lord Jesus Christ honourably, and without their voluntary commitment, energy, creativity and gift we would not be able to provide the high quality activities through which the Lord blesses the children who come under the care of the church.
There is a clear principle in Scripture that those who take responsibility should first be tested
(1 Timothy 3:10); if this is true for deacon service it is surely true for all those who are charged by the church with care for the vulnerable. Likewise, those appointed to serve need to maintain personal diligence and watchfulness ( 1 Timothy 4:16; Acts 20:28), so there is a need to be on the alert for developing problems, or errors creeping in, hence the need for reasonable oversight of activities. Those given responsibility by the church for care of children must surely be themselves guided by the Word of God ( Ephesians 6:4), so evidence of a personal commitment to learning what the Scriptures teach and applying it must be expected of them.
Consistent with these principles we expect the policies adopted by the church of God in Toronto will therefore make the necessary provisions to achieve the safe environment we aim for, with respect to the following key areas: