Reports of abusive conduct toward children by adults are shocking. One doesn’t have to look far to see how widespread such accounts have become. It is estimated that one out of every three girls and one out of five boys will experience some form of sexual abuse by age 18. Churches cannot expect to remain unaffected by this problem.
So, what’s a church to do? The answer is: everything possible to screen and monitor those working with minors at church!
Implementing safety and security policies is no longer an option. Standard policies, including the “6/2” rule, are a must. This simple policy states that anyone working with children or youth must be an active member of your church for at least six months before assuming a position of leadership and that there will always be at least two adults in the room with minors at all times. These easy to implement policies will go far in discouraging predators.
Next, include a volunteer worker application and follow-up interview as part of your policies. Having current and prospective leaders complete an application form and conduct formal interviews with each will show your church, your community, and possible predators that your church is watching and concerned for the safety of children.
Protection policies are incomplete without an official criminal background check. Many insurance companies are requiring churches to have complete checks as a prerequisite to coverage. Completing background checks on every adult working directly with minors demonstrates a desire and intent to protect children.
Here’s the bottom line: It is our responsibility to protect minors at church. Yes, it may be a difficult transition and sometimes uncomfortable, but protection in not an option. The mental, emotional, and spiritual development of children is at stake. Don’t ignore the possibilities. Ensure that your church is a loving and safe environment for children to grow in their relationship with their Lord and His church.
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.