I’ve posted on this topic before but recent news stories have prompted me to “reiterate” the importance of keeping your ministry safe (the Kids, the Leaders, the Church, and you.
It amazes me that there are still churches who haven’t seen the importance of making the safety and security of its ministry an extremely high priority. It’s simply no longer acceptable to not take precautionary measures when considering the safety and security of our kids, their leaders, and our church. Please don’t be the ostrich that hears the warnings and places his head in the sand thinking, “if I don’t think about it, or don’t acknowledge the issue it will go away. After all I don’t see a problem.”
There are multiple articles within this blog (Kids Ministry 101) on this topic, but today I’m just going to highlight the basics. Use this list as a reminder, a refresher, or a motivator to get this issue settled!
- Start with the Staff: Whatever that means for you, start there. Talk with your pastor, talk with your executive pastor, or talk with your education minister. Talk and agree that this is a priority. Share statistics, findings, concerns, and risks and get them on board. Allow your supervisor to help guide the next steps but make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Include Lay and Influential Leaders: Once the staff is on board and in agreement, begin to include church members in the conversation. Key lay leadership are important to the success of policies and procedures. Consider deacons, elders, influential parents, a law enforcement officer, an insurance representative, and even you church attorney. These folks can help with direction, decision, and implementation. This doesn’t need to be something you decided to do or the staff is pushing down people’s throats. It will play out better if recommendations come from a united effort of staff and church members.
- Implement any Emergency Policies needed: If you find yourself at ground zero and have no policies in place consider implementing the quick “6/2” policy. Every person who works with minors in your church must have been active in the church for at least six months and there is NEVER less than two adults in the room with minor children. This IS NOT the only thing you need to do (lots more to do), but it’s a quick bandage that will help protect while working toward a better end.
- Don’t try to reinvent the wheel: There are tons of churches who have already gone down this road. Most are eager to share their policy manual when it comes to Safety and Security. While one should never simply “copy and paste” another church’s policies, it’s a great place to start.
- Adopt and Implement! As a congregation, officially adopt policies and procedures and then intentionally (with your lay team) implement them. Don’t be caught adopting without implementation. That shows disregard for policies thought valuable/important and doesn’t play well for the church if an issue should ever arise. Additionally, don’t “half-comply” by allowing some to not comply while others are required.
By God’s grace most of you will never deal with a serious Safety/Security issue. I honestly pray that you’ll never have to deal with a ministry tragedy like I’ve been reading about lately. But my position on the matter doesn’t change and I’d encourage you to take the same, “Prevention is the Preferred Strategy!”
I’d rather prevent an issue, a tragedy, a heartbreak, or a ministry destroyer, than deal with one! Please take this seriously. Please do your “due diligence” and by all means (literally) protect the kids and leadership with whom God has entrusted you.
Since 2003 Bill Emeott has served as a Kids Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Kids. His passions include childhood ministry leadership training and development, leading children’s Bible Study, and being an uncle! Bill has been teaching children for 26 years.