How can N.C. Baptists plan for and create safe ministry environments to prevent abuse from ever happening? 

Our churches must be a harbor for the hurting and the safest place for the vulnerable among us. How can N.C. Baptists plan for and create safe ministry environments to prevent abuse from ever happening? 

Developing a comprehensive care plan might seem overwhelming and unnecessary when everyone in your church is familiar with one another. But this sense of comfort can cause members to let down their guard, making your church an easy target for predators.

One way to establish safeguards is to implement a background check requirement for all volunteers in children’s and youth ministries. Here are a few things to consider when conducting background checks, so you gain the information you need to keep children and teens safe.

Background and reference checks only show a snapshot of someone’s past. You can fill in the gaps by requesting transparency from previous employers.

Previous employers may hesitate or refuse to share information about a candidate in fear of liability for defamation. To encourage full, candid information about a potential volunteer, you can request candidates to sign a waiver that releases references from liability or other restrictions that can otherwise make information privileged. The Caring Well Hiring Guide provides a sample authorization and release form on page 9.

Conduct detailed interviews with prospective volunteers who wish to work with children and youth.

Face-to-face conversations allow the interviewer to assess the volunteer’s suitability to serve. Discuss questions or concerns involving incomplete application answers; patterns of behavior, such as frequent moves; gaps in life history or concerns from references.

You can ask about:

  • The applicant’s reasons for serving in ministry
  • Personal testimony and spiritual disciplines
  • Age preference for serving and reasons
  • Previous experience working with children and youth, including how, when and where
  • How they would respond to scenarios that involve a defiant child, recurring misbehavior or bullying
  • How they would respond to witnessing grooming or abuse
  • Their compliance with policies

Several services and tools provide discounts on background checks for ministry purposes. Learn more from the list below.

Find more resources such as screening checklists, downloadable forms, children’s ministry software and more at

by NC Baptist communications