The days of pretending bad things don’t happen at church—or the people our volunteersserve—have long since ended. How can you protect your church, your volunteers, and the people you serve?
While you can’t completely eliminate all risk in your church or area of ministry you can “manage” the risk. Where do you start? Take these four steps:
1. Look at each volunteer position and identify any potential areas for liability. Use your judgement and concentrate on reducing risk in the areas that matter most. This will probably be in areas where the people served are the most vulnerable: children and youth, people with disabilities, and senior adults.
2. Evaluate the ways you can manage those risks. What can you do to protect the people you serve—and your volunteers? Are you willing to proactively take steps to raise awareness and make changes?
3. Choose the means and implement your strategy. Here’s where you actually do something. Be aware that in any risk management strategy, the volunteer recruitment and placement process is thoroughly investigated. Practically speaking, that means when you’re in the interview phase of volunteer recruitment you’ll have to decide when to initiate background screenings.
4. Monitor your ministries and determine whether the means of managing the risk is meeting your church’s needs and the needs of the people you’re serving. Make sure the steps you’ve put in place are truly managing the risks you’ve identified.
Rather than dwelling on what could happen in the area of risk and liability, try to determine ways to manage and minimize those risks for safe ministry!
[Editor’s Note: April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to recognize that we each play a part in promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families in our communities. Learn more on the National Child Abuse Prevention Month website https://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth/ To honor this effort to protect children, Group is offering Shepherd’s Watch Premium membership for the price of Basic during the month of April. Call 800-447-1070 to join. Use discount code: SW14101]