Churches should be the safest place on earth. There are many things requiredÂ 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 hadnâ€™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. Â We call this class Starting Point.Â 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.Â 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.Â Additionally, we use it as an opportunity to get to know them.
Written Application – We require everyone to complete a written application. Â 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. Â We assume that everyone will at come into contact with a minor from time to time, and therefore, we do a check on everyone.Â Â First, we do a Massachusetts State CORI. Â These are free to us in Massachusetts as a church. Â We also use a company called First Advantage to run everyone’s name against the National Sexual Offender Registry. Â 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. Â You can see our online reference form here:Â 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. Â 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 shouldnâ€™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 childrenâ€™s and youth volunteer to take the Reducing the Risk course the next time it offered at our church after they apply to serve.Â This is a course offered byÂ Christianity Today and Church Law & Tax.
This is what we are currently doing to keep our church safe. Â What about your church? Â What are you doing to provide a safe placeÂ for your families to come and worship?