Rachael Denhollander: What Pastors Need to Know About Sexual Abuse

“When we dim the darkness of sin, when we don’t treat it like the important thing that it is, what we have ultimately done is we have dimmed the holiness of God. We have dimmed the beauty of the gospel.”

“The authority that a pastor is given, and the role that a pastor has, in a congregant’s life is very significant.”

“By best estimates, at least 25 percent of the women and close to that many of the men have experienced sexual abuse in any given congregation [during their lifetimes].”

“Survivors of sexual abuse are four to six times more likely to contemplate suicide compared to survivors of other forms of trauma. But survivors are also very good about hiding those things.”

“You are likely to be hemorrhaging wounds in your church that you are completely unaware of and that you will remain unaware of because a survivor has to keep you at arm’s length to be safe. So the intentionality with which you approach ministry is incredibly important.”

“Because what you preach on is seen as the remedy for abuse and is tied to the gospel and is tied to the identity of Christ, how you respond when someone discloses abuse becomes wound up in their conception of God.”

“The ability [of pastors] to do significant damage is very, very high. The flip side to that, of course, is that the ability to bring incredible restoration is also very high. And that should give pastors hope.”

“There is so much beauty in a gospel-filled response to abuse.”

“Sometimes the best thing you can do is be able to connect survivors with good counseling resources, good psychologists, good practical resources that can help them escape an abusive situation or that can help them rebuild the life that’s been shattered.”

“There is a great amount of healing you can bring when you do this well.”

“I think that’s one of the most beautiful things that a pastor can do, is preach accurately.”

“We need to paint that picture of God’s utter holiness and apply it to the evil that’s been done to people, not just to the sin that they have to repent of.”

“The first thing I would say [to a sexual abuse survivor] is go to the scriptures. Go to the scriptures yourself. Read what God says.”

“Don’t put your trust in the institution of the church. Put your trust in the one who perfectly created it.”

Mentioned in the Show

What Is a Girl Worth? 
A blind eye to sex abuse: How USA Gymnastics failed to report cases,” IndyStar
Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused 
Brad Hambrick’s video resources
Diane Langberg

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Jason Daye
As Director of Ministry Development for Outreach, Inc., Jason dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. Jason lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his beautiful wife and six children, where he enjoys hiking with his family, fighting rainbow trout, summiting 14ers and swapping stories with good friends. Connect with him on Twitter @jasondaye