Let's talk about what a healthy culture is and what it might look like in your setting, as we seek to create flourishing and safe places for all.
Culture. It’s what defines us. In a church, it is made up of things like:
- What you believe
- How you express yourselves
- How you behave towards each other
Culture is a bit like the soil you plant a seed in. It’s what feeds that seed and helps it to grow. For a seed to grow well, it needs good soil.
Q. What is your culture like now and what would you like it to be?
Watch or download this short animation from the Christian safeguarding charity thirtyone:eight. It talks about culture and how you can start to develop or maintain 'good soil'.
Below are some ideas and materials that may help you start conversations about culture in your church or other local setting.
- Exercise 1 Take a look at the following slides on Safer, Healthier Culture and Systems.
What of these do you see reflected in your own setting? What would you like to see develop?
- Exercise 2 Print out a picture of your church or local setting. Invite people to use sticky notes or to draw on, what is positive and what they would like to improve.
- Exercise 3 Use the same picture to say what they would like the church to be in 5 years and then discuss how to get there. '
- Exercise 4 Invite people to bring or draw a picture that represents the aspects of a healthy culture that are already present in your setting, and a second picture for ones they want to see develop.
We are very grateful to Dr Lisa Oakley, Associate Professor in Applied Psychology at the University of Chester and co-author of the book, Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse - Creating healthy Christian Cultures, for giving us permission to reproduce these ideas and materials.
You may also be interested in
Talking about culture: conversation starters - The Ann Craft Trust - Although designed for sports organisations and clubs, these culture conversations starters could be easily adapted to work within a church or another setting
The Maidstone Commitments - The five commitments were specifically formulated for those complementarian parishes under the pastoral care of the Bishop of Maidstone. They were formulated in 2021 in the wake of concerns that had been raised about the culture of some evangelical churches and aim to help develop church cultures that are healthy environments. Visit the Bishop of Maidstone's website
If you need support
If any of the information on this page has been a trigger, please be encouraged to contact the Diocese’s Safeguarding Team. Visit: www.rochester.anglican.org/safeguarding
In addition, Safe Spaces is an independent service supporting survivors of church-related abuse. It is free to access via telephone - 0300 303 1056 (answerphone available outside of opening times), email - firstname.lastname@example.org, or web-chat via www.safespacesenglandandwales.org.uk/
A list of helplines offering support on a range of issues can be found on the Church of England’s website at: www.churchofengland.org/safeguarding/reporting-abuse-and-finding-support
Lead Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser