Sunday, July 27, 2014

Does the Church "Tolerate" Some Types of Bullying?

I'm certain if I were to ask anyone in children's ministry we would all say we are completely against bullying. But, stop for a moment and think. Do we actually "tolerate" some types of bullying? Are there some types of bullying we "turn a blind eye to"? Consider the following -
  • When we play games - typically in our mid-week ministry - do we ignore when the "athletic" kids talk about not wanting the "non-athletic" kids on their team?
  • Do we accept as just part of "the way it is" when the popular kids are in their "cliques" and they intentionally leave out the "loner" kids?
  • Do we as teachers/small group leaders give more attention to the popular kids?
What is your policy on bullying? I'm sure you wouldn't allow a child to physically harm another child or even say overt unkind things, but do we hold everyone in our children's ministry to the standard Jesus held up for us in Matthew 22 . . . . 37-40Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them." (the Message)

Do we really make sure the adults and children in our ministries love others as well as they love themselves? Even if the "others" are "different" from us? I've watched as churches turn a blind eye to bullying. When my daughter was in 5th grade there was a girl at the church we attended who was "different". She was somewhat developmentally delayed and quite socially delayed. The other girls in my daughters class didn't want to have anything to do with this girl, but my daughter befriended her . . . and paid a big "price" for doing so. The other girls ostracized my daughter. This is an example of bullying . . . do we do anything about this type of bullying, or do we ignore it? 

What do you do at your church when bullying rears it's ugly head? What if the children who are being the bullies are from the families of church "leaders"? What do you do?

Let's commit to be absolutely certain our churches are truly safe places for EVERYONE. We need to stop and honestly evaluate what we do in our ministries to be sure we love others as well as we love ourselves and we need to be sure the children in our ministries understand this means not only being kind in word and action, but it involves including others like Jesus would do if He were physically in their class.

Let's have a true zero-tolerance policy when it comes to all types of bullying.


  1. Amen Linda! Fortunately I have only had to deal with this once in VBS. One of our own church kids who was not very patient with another girl with special needs from our church during a game.
    I stopped everything right there and told all the children that God wants each of us to build each other up and not tear each other down. Everyone got the message loud and clear.

    1. Thank you for sharing Merry - and for handling it as you did!