Abuse & Pastoral Malpractice

As a Fellowship, we recognise that abuse in all its forms is wrong before the Lord and deeply damaging to the victims. We are committed to supporting and developing godly leadership and pastoral care in our churches.

All teaching and leadership is to be conducted with grace and love. We seek to promote Biblical teaching and practice, so that believers grow to maturity in Christ. Church discipline is required in cases of unrepentant false teaching or sinful practice. The goal is not only the purity of the church but also the restoration of the sinner.

The Biblical pictures of spiritual leadership are those of a shepherd, devoted parent, and servant. The ultimate example is the Lord Jesus Christ.

FIEC is a voluntary association of independent churches united in our belief in the gospel. Whilst the churches of the Fellowship seek to help one another, in principle and in practice we respect the autonomy of the local church and exercise no direct central control.

Whilst FIEC is not responsible for safeguarding issues arising within its churches, we do expect all the churches of the Fellowship to have a safeguarding policy in place protecting children and vulnerable adults. Where there are allegations of illegal activity, we expect these to be reported to the statutory authorities.

If a church within FIEC has systematically failed to act in accordance with its own safeguarding policy and subsequently refuses to ensure appropriate action is taken internally, the church will, where appropriate, be requested by FIEC to deal with the matter carefully and urgently. Failure to do so is likely to result in the church being removed from FIEC by the Trust Board. Where necessary a report will be made to the statutory regulatory bodies.

Church leaders, and others in the local church involved in leadership and pastoral care, can behave in ways that, whilst not illegal, do fall short of the standards expected of a person with pastoral responsibility. These behaviours range from serious misconduct (including coercion or control) to simply being unwise in relating to others. Given the autonomy of the local church, we expect local churches to take the initiative in taking appropriate disciplinary action where it is needed.

Where there is evidence of serious misconduct or systemic abuse which is not dealt with by the local church, a pastor may be removed from the Pastors’ Network, or the church from the FIEC. Where appropriate, FIEC will report to statutory bodies.

FIEC encourages churches to make available appropriate pastoral care for all those affected and/or involved in such situations.

Agreed by the FIEC Trust Board, 1 February 2021.

Addressing complaints about FIEC churches

If you believe that an FIEC church has not taken appropriate action following a complaint, or failed to follow its own policies and procedures in relation to a complaint, you can raise the matter with FIEC centrally. Our role is not to investigate a complaint, but rather to ensure that an FIEC church (which is independent and autonomous, responsible to the statutory authorities and the Charity Commission) has addressed the matter properly.

As our Statement on Abuse & Pastoral Malpractice makes clear, if a church fails to take action following a complaint carefully and urgently, it can be removed from the Fellowship by the Trust Board. This is called disaffiliation.

Our Disaffiliation Procedure, which explains the process in full, can be downloaded below.

Making a Complaint about an FIEC Church (PDF)

FIEC and Mediation in Churches

Mediation seeks an intervention between parties in a dispute to reach agreement or facilitate reconciliation. Where sharp disagreements have taken place in church life, we believe it is wise to consider this course of action.

To find out more about mediation, and how to apply to FIEC for help, please download and read the document below.

Download the Mediation document

This page was last updated on 23/03/2023. Spotted an error? Please get in touch.

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