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Social service 101

This module by Cadet Kelly Melfi

This module was prepared by Cadet Kelly Melfi, and presented in class on 5/11/2020. The class Power Point is attached under Aims below.

  • Background: Has experienced issues in her family and encountered abuse in her work
  • Knows: When people bring their issues to the church they can be faced with condemnation. Confusion about submission and roles adds unnecessary stress on Christian marriages.
  • Wanted to learn: What does the Bible say? How to help emerging leaders understand that their deepest beliefs (e.g. about divorce) affect their ministry, so they can be effective even when they do not agree with the other's choices. Develop a plan of action for responding to abuse. 
  • Learned: Characteristics of healthy and unhealthy families. Recognizing signs of abuse in children and adults and assessing the situation. Biblical equality in marriage. Coaching alongside pastor. 

Aims of this module

To explore how as corps officers, whenever we we meet with our people, we can discover and strengthen our "WE" because this will involve us all.


What is family? We were created for belonging. Today, family is expressed in many ways. 

"Christian family is first and finally the life of the church" (Banks & Stevens, 1997, p. 129).

Which of these characteristics of healthy families have we seen? (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services)

  • communication
  • encouragement of individuals
  • expressing appreciation
  • commitment to family
  • religious/spiritual orientation
  • social connectedness
  • ability to adapt
  • clear roles
  • time together

Four common problems:

  • conditional love
  • shame
  • control
  • distance

Families build our character and form our identity. We learn to adapt and live with others. 

But we may live out of unhealthy roles we learned in childhood.

We also have to be careful as leaders, and some of us with a more alpha presence that we do not constantly inflict this on our people because they want to learn, step-up, grow, explore their gifts as leaders and beyond… but they will not have the space if we are constantly in the way.

Marriage breakdown

What is marriage? Today, there are many expressions of marriage, but they all involve a covenant or agreement. Christian marriage that reflects the Trinity, co-equal in power and glory, protects the home from the improper use of power (CBE international). 

Marriage and family can be tricky to navigate because roles and relationships will all look different for each one of us and if we do not navigate this properly, then we can ALL easily have problems within our marriages: Corps families, potential corps families, and in our own families!

The couple forms the WE at the center of the family. If there is a breakdown in the WE, this will affect the entire family.

Which of these pressures on the family have we seen?

●Biological: physical limitations-proximity, abuse,
●Psychological: mental illnesses, abuse, trauma
●Social: work, friends, extended family, family of origin issues, divorce
●Spiritual: the enemy!

What can we do?

DON'T weaponize Scripture!!!

DO see beyond the presenting problem to the 

  • root (family of origin issues) and the 
  • fruit (where the person will be in the future, growing out of where they are now and how you come alongside them)

DO be aware that these dynamics apply to us as well

DO move from rescuing to coaching (Brown & Errington, 2019)

What can we do?

  • Seeking to recue from suffering/pain
  • Over functioning for them
  • Looking down on them as helpless
  • Problem/rescue approach
  • Focusing on problems
  • Focusing on content of problem
  • Taking on their problems
  • Focusing on feelings
  • Thinking for them
  • Advice/blaming/changing
  • Standing alongside, encouraging & allowing for them to experience their distress
  • Each having responsibility for self; working out a clear pastoral role
  • Managing own anxiety, differentiation of self
  • Viewing them as a capable person who has been given resources by God; inviting their coping strategies on; learning from them; genuine two-person relationship
  • Encourage a research observation approach
  • Relating to whole person and focusing on their functioning
  • Focusing on patterns or process of relationship

What is abuse and how do we respond?

Who can be abused?  Intimate partner, child, elder, parent, sibling, pet

How is abuse expressed? Physical, emotional, sexual, reproductive, financial, digital, spiritual

“Intimate relationship of any kind increases the likelihood of violence” (Strong & Cohen, 2017, p. 448).

Learn to recognize the signs of abuse in children and in adults (see PP slides)

Assess the situation (see PP slides)

Have resources you can call on and refer the person to

  • Child abuse hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD
  • Adult protective services 1-800-222-8000
  • National domestic violence hotline 1-800-799-SAFE


Banks, R. & Stevens, P. (1997). The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Brown, J. & Errington, L. (Eds). (2019). Bowen Family Systems Theory in Christian Ministry. Australia. The Family Systems Practice & Institute.

Garland, D. (2012). Family Ministry. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Strong, B. & Cohen, T. (2017). The Marriage and Family Experience. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.