On the front of Jonathan Bradford’s office door is a metaphor for his team; an image of a big wave with a surfer gliding over: The wave represents the “wave” of change coming from the government around child protection laws, while the surfboard represents the fact that this team can help churches navigate and implement these changes, without feeling overwhelmed. Jonathan explains, “We didn’t create the wave, but we have a surfboard that can help people get across it!” 

Jonathan is our Ministry Standards Manager. Child protection policies can be overwhelming, and are quite complicated and challenging with new requirements constantly coming from the Royal Commission. But Jonathan and the Ministry Standards team loves being able to help pastors, elders, SRE teachers, kids/youth leaders and more to navigate these changes, and encouraging them to continue serving even amongst difficult times. Why? Well, he says, “We want to empower ministry, not limit it.”

And we don’t just implement these legal processes because the government tells us to – it’s actually an expression of Christ’s love, and upholds each person’s value in His eyes. “The scriptures talk over and over about caring for widows and orphans, which in today’s language means children, young people and vulnerable adults,” Jonathan explains, “So if we’re going to reflect the character of God, we’ve got to look out for these people…It’s really important that we protect people from harm – for mission and evangelism’s sake”. 

In the last year, the Ministry Standards team have helped to reduce the burden on churches by leading 120 workshops both face-to-face and online, training thousands of people from a range of regions, inducting their first bilingual workshop presenters, and launching the ‘Safe Church Health Check’ audit – a tool where churches can have an accountability process to ensure that they’re doing everything that the government requires. 

The team would like to congratulate Heartbeat Church for being the first church in our Baptist movement to complete and satisfy the requirements of the Check. Pastor Mitchell Levingston said, “It is quite exciting to be the first church…Our leadership team will continue to work on ways to improve our policies, procedures and practical means to ensure we are complying with being a safe church.” 

To assess the safety practices of your own church, access the Safe Church Health Check online (and for free) here.

If you have questions about the Check, contact our Safe Church Coordinator, Katie Watson (kwatson@nswactbaptists.org.au)


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