Reports of abusive conduct toward children by adults are shocking. Churches cannot expect to remain unaffected by this crime. So, what is a church to do? Everything possible to keep kids safe at church!
I like to sum up the conversation on safety and security like this, “Prevention is the Preferred Strategy!” I would rather prevent an issue than deal with one. Here are three simple steps to jumpstart your Kids Ministry on its way to being a safe and secure place for kids:
Step 1: Implement safety and security policies.
Standard policies, including the “6/2” rule, are a must. This policy states that one must be an active member of your church for at least six months before assuming a position of leadership and that there will be at least two adults in the room with minors at all times. These easy to implement policies will go far in discouraging predators.
Check with other churches, associations, and state conventions to see what they’ve done and what they recommend. Appoint a team of representatives from your church to help you develop or review your policies. Remember, “Prevention is the Preferred Strategy!”
Step 2: Include a volunteer application and follow-up interviews as routine.
This will show your church, your community, and possible predators that your church is watching and concerned for the safety of children. Getting started with this might be a bit uncomfortable, but remember, “Prevention is the Preferred Strategy!”
Step 3: Do official criminal background checks.
Many insurance companies are requiring churches to completed checks as a prerequisite to coverage. Completing background checks demonstrates a desire and intent to protect kids.
You may hear folks say, “You know me… I’ve been in this church my whole life!” Remind them (and yourself) that while the folks inside the walls of your church may know and trust life-long church members the folks you’re trying to reach (outside the walls of the church) don’t know them and need to feel secure about leaving their kids in the care of strangers.
Background checks may seem extreme and they will cost your church financially. But it’s worth it to keep your kids and your ministry safe. (You can find discounts on background checks at Lifeway.com.) Remember our theme, “Prevention is the Preferred Strategy!”
As Kids Ministers it is our responsibility to protect kids at church. It may be a difficult transition and sometimes uncomfortable but, protection is not an option.
Since 2003 Bill Emeott has served as a Kids Ministry Specialist for Lifeway. His passions include childhood ministry leadership training and development, leading children’s Bible Study, and being an Uncle! Bill has been teaching children at First Baptist Nashville for ten years.