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Carrots and Sticks

Updated: Mar 19, 2018

It’s the season for Church Councils. I’ve been to two in the last two days and could have been at another last night. Church Councils are so central to who we are as Methodists and as trustees we take big decisions there that can have both an immediate and a long term impact, potentially affecting the experience of church members for years in the future.

What’s important right now may well govern how much time and space is given to particular items, be it about a piano, installing a defibrillator, recouping rental income or agreeing plans for the church anniversary. It’s striking how council members can get engrossed in these matters, because they really do matter and for some people a seemingly uncontentious issue is something they care passionately about.

Safeguarding is now generally on the agenda at most Church Council meetings if early signs from pilot audits is reflected more generally, but this is not necessarily a plea for safeguarding to be bumped up the agenda or given a disproportionate amount of time. Having it on the agenda is a recognition that along with finance, property and worship matters for example, it’s a key area of church life for us to consider, but hopefully it does not always have to be the subject of lively debate or a big decision. Safeguarding is about doing things safely and well, day in and day out, and having it as an agenda item at Church Council gives the opportunity for members quietly to ask the right questions to reassure themselves that is all is well and that systems are working as they should.

So as Councils review their safeguarding policies or consider a report from the safeguarding officer, it’s not always about banging the drum, shroud waving (as we used to call threats to health and social care services) or waving the big stick, it’s more about the encouragement of a carrot and hopefully recognition of a job well done.


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