The Aim of Direct Dealing
The aim of Direct Dealing is to ensure the respect and freedoms of everyone who comes to Liberty Church.
The mission and ministry of Liberty Church is important and worth safeguarding. Many of us will have lived through the pain of denunciation and the negative messages about our value from other churches. Part of our mission is to increase self-esteem, self-worth and a new freedom by receiving the unconditional love of Jesus from people in our congregation.
At Liberty Church we recognise that there are those of us who have gone through experiences of hurt, rejection, and abuse: not through any fault of our own, but as a result of what society, or other groups, or other individuals have done to us.
Emotional pain can affect the way we respond to others and the way we expect others to respond to us. In addition traumatic major life events can profoundly affect the way any of us relate to others. Such life events often occur without notice and can happen to any one.
This policy is designed to set out our responsibilities towards each other so that those among us who are emotionally vulnerable are protected. This is necessary in order to ensure we are able to maintain a safe environment for all.
Liberty Church Direct Dealing Policy
Our advisory Ministers include the Rev Andy Braunston MCC Manchester.
This document has been drawn up after referring to the Direct Dealing policy written by the Reverend Andy Braunston & Philip Jones of Metropolitan Community Church Manchester.
The co-pastors responsible for the day to day running of Liberty Church are Jim Parker and Nina Parker. We are a registered charity which is overseen by our board of trustees.
1: What is Direct Dealing?
Direct Dealing is a way of behaving in church which is ethical and socially acceptable, and ensures everyone's rights and freedoms are respected.
The mission and ministry of Liberty Church is important and worth safeguarding. It is vital that within a church gathering people treat each other in a way that respects the value of others. It is necessary that in such a gathering people can be at ease and not be threatened or devalued or prevented from taking part fully, by the behaviour or language of others.
Whenever people mix together regularly, difficulties occasionally arise. Some require some form of mediation, and some need to be challenged. Early, honest and direct responses to difficulties between people can help to avoid deep-seated conflict at a later stage.
We believe that all who attend our church have the right to be treated with equality, to spend their time with us in a healthy and affirming atmosphere, and to be free from any form of disturbance or harassment. You have those rights at Liberty Church so does your neighbour. Any actions which deny any person those rights will need to be challenged.
Some examples of actions that would have to be challenged:
Any unfair criticism or malicious comments about another person can quickly involve other people and cause conflict throughout the congregation. Sexism, racism, ageism or any other unjust comments around equality issues are directly against Liberty Church's position on inclusivity and are unacceptable.
Alcohol and/or substance abuse: Those whose behaviour in church is noticeably affected by the use of drink or drugs are putting their neighbours in an often unpleasant and unfair situation which prevents them enjoying a safe environment.
Harassment: this includes unwanted attentions of any kind. It is damaging to the church as people do not come to church to be harassed and will stop attending.
'The Silent Treatment' refusing to greet or talk to a person when it would be socially expected. This is a powerful message of rejection and constitutes passive aggression.
Inappropriate expression of strong emotions such as anger which could cause distress to others. This should not be done in a public setting where other people could be adversely affected. We all need to express strong emotions at times but this should be done with those who we trust can cope with them. Someone having difficulties handling their emotions in a public setting can request time to discuss this with the co-pastors privately.
Verbal abuse, physical abuse or threat of physical abuse: This is totally inappropriate.
Causing disturbances in meetings that prevent others participating.
Promoting Division and Discontent:
Covertly spreading negative opinions to undermine the leadership of the church causes the church to be distracted from its God-given mission.
True dissent is honourable, and when debated openly can provide opportunities for all to grow in understanding of different opinions. Those who are honourable in their disagreements will either decide to tolerate the majority view, or if the issue is so important to them, will honourably find a different congregation whose values they share.
Action to be taken:
If something occurs which appears to infringe the rights of the people in the church as explained above, the co-pastors or someone nominated by them will meet with the person involved to challenge the behaviour and to find a way forward. They will do their utmost to ensure the church gatherings are protected from further disturbance or harassment.
When anyone believes another is treating him/her or speaking to him/her in a hurtful way this must be raised, with the support of a co-pastor when needed, directly with the person who is thought to be at fault. This is essential to avoid on going resentment, bad atmospheres and breakdown of relationship.
Often hurt may not be intended and when the matter is discussed openly relationships can be protected.
2. Assertive Behaviour:
Assertiveness is different to aggression.
Assertiveness is treating yourself as equal to others and taking responsibility to clearly communicate what you want and need in relating to others. Assertive communication respects the other person and does not override the needs of the other and does not devalue or belittle the other even when opinions disagree.
In an assertive confrontation both keep their self respect and demonstrate their respect for each other. In aggressive confrontation the stronger overrides the weaker who ends up feeling put down, taken advantage of and aware that their thoughts and feelings are not respected.
There are some key points to be aware of when thinking and acting assertively. These include:
My feelings and needs are at least as important as anyone else's.
My rights are valuable and it is my duty to protect them without hurting others.
We all share the responsibility of making Liberty Church a place where people are respected and valued. Part of this involves not 'putting up' with behaviour you think is damaging but in putting the effort in to discuss it with the co-pastors and take steps to address it.
3: Financial Support:
People can feel unduly pressured when asked for money or sponsorship and is also contrary to the ethos of Liberty. Therefore we would request that any promotion of outside interests be put on the Church Newsletter so support can be gained without pressure.
4: Confidentiality in Church:
The co-pastors can be expected to hold an absolute confidence if requested to within the limits described below:
If the co-pastors believe the person could cause, or has caused harm to self or others. Whenever possible and appropriate, they will discuss the action to be taken with the person concerned. They will take steps to reduce that risk of harm and when necessary they will refer to the appropriate authorities.
However, the co-pastors reserve the option to raise any issues with advisory ministers external to the local congregation or the Trustees of Liberty Church. This is to maintain the opportunity for the co-pastors to have access to support and advice for all issues they encounter in their role.
A person's privacy must be respected. There are church members for example that are not 'out' and that is their choice.
Permission must be obtained from the other person before sharing their personal information e.g. address, phone number etc.
Permission must be gained before passing on a photograph of anyone or publication of photographs whether for other church members or in the public arena, e.g. on a website.
From time to time an issue may arise where someone wishes to complain about the behaviour of another. These complaints should be made to the co-pastors and dealt with in a spirit of respect and openness.
Any complaint about the co-pastors should be raised, in the first instance with the co-pastors. If that approach does not produce a resolution, or if the complainant feels that they are not able to go alone to see the co-pastors, then they should ask the co-pastors to nominate a mutually agreeable member of the Board of Trustees or congregation to sit in on the meeting.
If a complainant has a serious concern and if they are not able to resolve this with the co-pastors directly they should be invited to make a complaint to advisory minister the Rev Braunston at MCC Manchester who will mediate between the complainant and the co-pastors in a fair and just way. They should not attempt to build a body of support for their opinion within the church; such behaviour can be divisive and damaging for the whole congregation.
We at Liberty Church believe that God wants people to thrive, and that those managing the day-to-day affairs of the church have a responsibility to create a suitable environment for that purpose. Facing issues as they arise, holding in balance the needs of all of us, and dealing directly, honestly and assertively with difficult situations is good pastoral practice.
Please pray that we will achieve this and that Liberty Church will continue to be a place where people are valued and respected.