When the Government published a Green Paper regarding services to vulnerable children and invited submissions, along with promoting discussion on this very significant issue, I attended the Auckland presentation. Various experts presented their opinions, both supportive and critical of relevant aspects of the Green Paper.
I was impressed by the level of expertise that was on stage and in the room. The problem is complex and some fine minds are looking for solutions.
Gone are the days of ignoring and pretending that there isn’t an elephant in the room. There is sensible dialogue taking place with agencies that are at the coal face. Our society wants to find solutions.
As I was leaving, I found myself wishing for the day when representatives of faith communities were amongst the voices presenting expert views. While there were many faith-based organisations in attendance, I still came away with some sense of the irrelevancy or, maybe more accurately, the lack of engagement of the church in these types of discussions.
Christians led the law reforms that abolished slavery. But it has been argued that somewhere, somehow, we lost the concern for the wellbeing of humanity. As a result, we are reticent to engage in public policy. Is this true?
While the time to engage with the Green Paper has passed, this does not mean that we cannot as churches continue to discuss how we should be addressing the issues it raises. What should the response of your church be? Do you know what the children in your community are facing? What can you encourage the families in your church to do? You could host a forum in your church where these issues are discussed.
We would love to hear how churches are engaging with these issues; you could share some practical “how tos” that would prompt other churches and families.
To download a copy of the Green Paper, visit www.childrensactionplan.govt.nz or go to facebook: www.facebook.com/greenpaperonchildren .
• Grant Warner is Baptist Union National Advisor for Children and Family Ministries.