Churches should be the safest place on earth. There are many things required to make this a reality, one of which is the screening of all volunteers. Unfortunately, not every church does their job. In fact, I recently spoke with a church that hadn’t even been doing basic background checks on their children and youth workers. That is a huge liability for the church. More egregious, it leaves people vulnerable and their trust misplaced.
Introductory Class – We require everyone serving in ministry to go through a course introducing them to our church. We call this class Starting Point. The course is four weeks long and covers a variety of topics including our church staff and structure, how we do ministry, handle conflict, handle finances, our core values, our doctrine, and more. We cover a lot in Starting Point, however, we use this class for far more than a chance for people to get to know us. Additionally, we use it as an opportunity to get to know them.
Written Application – We require everyone to complete a written application. You can see a copy of our application here.
Background Checks – Part of the written application is permission to do a criminal background check on every applicant, not just children’s and youth workers. We assume that everyone will at come into contact with a minor from time to time, and therefore, we do a check on everyone. First, we do a Massachusetts State CORI. These are free to us in Massachusetts as a church. We also use a company called First Advantage to run everyone’s name against the National Sexual Offender Registry. We also use First Advantage to run out of state or country background checks on anyone that has lived outside of Massachusetts.
References – We require at least two references for every volunteer. You can see our online reference form here: Online Reference Form
Minor Protection Policies – We have every applicate read and sign our minor protection policies so they know what is expected of them when dealing with children and youth. A copy of our current policies can be found here: Child Protection Policies
Ministry Interview – We have a one-on-one interview with every ministry applicant to cover their application, to get to know them better, and to allow them to ask questions.
Staff Check – We run every name by our entire staff in staff meeting just to make sure that no one knows of any reason why the applicant shouldn’t be allowed to serve where they are applying to volunteer.
6 Month Minimum – We require that every volunteer attend the church consistently for at least 6 months prior to beginning to serve.
Reducing the Risk – We require every children’s and youth volunteer to take the Reducing the Risk course the next time it offered at our church after they apply to serve. This is a course offered by Christianity Today and Church Law & Tax.
This is what we are currently doing to keep our church safe. What about your church? What are you doing to provide a safe place for your families to come and worship?