The days of pretending bad things don’t happen at church—or to the people your volunteers serve—have long since ended. With October being church safety and security month, now is the time to assess your current safety practices. Start by reviewing your systems for managing risk.
Risk management includes all efforts aimed at minimizing the adverse impact that losses may have on an organization. The goal is to put in place systematic, organized processes that avoid, eliminate, or lower the chances that a loss will occur.
Here are four steps to start managing the risks at your church:
- Look at each volunteer position and identify any potential areas for liability. Begin by examining those ministries that work with vulnerable groups (infants, children, youth, shut-ins). Are any of the volunteers in these ministries involved in actions that may not be safe? For example, the nursery worker who is alone on a shift because the other volunteer didn’t show up. What changes may need to take place to ensure safety?
- Evaluate the ways you can manage those risks. What can you do to protect the people you serve—and your volunteers? For example, you may need to staff the nursery so that you always have two workers at any given time. And you may need a policy to follow in case two workers are not present!
- Choose the means and implement your strategy. Where risk management is concerned, talk is a great place to start, but action is required. This is the step where you actually do something. Conducting background checks is a great place to start, and perhaps the easiest tool to implement. Just make sure you have the authorization and consent of the person you want to check and apply this requirement across the board, rather than singling out specific individuals.
- 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. Evaluate whether the action steps you’ve put in place are managing the risks you’ve identified. An ongoing “safety team” may be able to oversee the success of your efforts. Group’s new Safe and Secure Church kit is a turnkey program for forming and equipping a church-wide security team.
Identifying and managing potential risks at your church is the first step in creating a safe ministry environment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers free resources from their Child Welfare Information Gateway to help you get started.
Make October the month you commit to church safety.
Keep the momentum going and discover how ready your children’s ministry is with the Safe and Secure Church Online Children’s Ministry Assessment.
– – Taken from a recent Shepherd’s Watch newsletter. Sign up today for Shepherd’s Watch Background Checks and receive your free monthly newsletter filled with advice and tips on keeping your church safe.
[We love to provide tips to keep your ministry safe. You may also want to consult your local legal advisors to get their perspective on this topic!]