Safety First should be the byword of every church ministry that deals with children. Carefully screening volunteers and employees before authorizing them to work in your youth or children’s ministry is vitally important. Safety first means a church takes every step possible to ensure that all children are protected at church, so parents have peace of mind about their children’s safety.
- Safety First means the church conducts an employee criminal background check on all volunteers. This is an emerging trend that will continue because it has undisputed community support. There’s not a court of law in this country that would frown on a church that conducts an employee criminal background check on every single volunteer who ministers to children.
- The next key step every Safety First ministry takes today is a simple check-in/checkout procedure. Kids are checked into classrooms and don’t get to leave until parents submit a “ticket” — much like a coat-check system. Much more advanced check-in/checkout procedures include software programs and even computer kiosks in central areas.
- A step above this Safety First measure is secure facilities. Secure children’s ministry areas require a ministry-approved name tag or family ID number for people to even enter the children’s ministry wing. The goal of such a secure environment is to protect children from unauthorized people who may want to harm them.
- The next phase of Safety First that your church will soon encounter is the need for facility lockdown procedures and drills. Such practices are commonplace for school systems, and most schools actually evacuate students to the haven of nearby churches.
Some Safety First churches, though, deliberate over the possibility of an armed intruder turning their haven into a war zone. These churches, such as Grace Community Church in Gresham, Oregon, create their own lockdown procedures. Inherent in having a plan is the need for lockdown drills so that children, parents, and staff know how to follow established procedures.
The dangers to children have increased recently. There are increased risks from medical concerns, custody battles, and unsolicited acts of violence. This is reported regularly on the evening news, which has exposed how vulnerable churches and schools have become. Many parents live in a culture of fear and over-protection for their children. The neighborhood playground is a thing of the past and locked-down homes are now children’s primary playgrounds.
Your church is not immune. Parents and society itself demand that you ensure children’s safety by conducting an employee criminal background check on all volunteers who work with children, and maintain secure environments for all children’s activities.
If you’re like most people responsible for hiring and training volunteers, you take your responsibility very seriously, and would never endanger the children or teens in your church. Download your free report instantly and discover eight steps to creating a safe church through church background checks.