Leader, the children’s safety falls on you

March 27, 2019

It seems every week there is a new story about the molestation of children in a church setting. Stories like these often reinforce fear and distrust for millennial parents about church. Millennials grew up with the faces of missing children on their milk cartons. Many are shamed on social media for allowing their children to play outside unsupervised. The idea of the “church bubble” of safety has been burst more times than we care to admit. Pastors and church leaders must ask themselves if they have done all they can to create a safe and secure environment for children if they want to engage and retain millennial parents.

What are some basic steps that church leaders must take to build a safe and secure place for children?

Background checks
Every staff member and church volunteer must have a background check before being allowed to serve with children. Reference checks and personal interviews should be conducted alongside a criminal background check as part of the procedure for approving workers to serve with children.

Background checks are not a “one and done” and should be repeated at least every three years on every staff member and volunteer leader.

Written policies
Every church must have a written policy outlining procedures the church will take to ensure a safe environment. Non-negotiable portions of these policies should include a two-person rule for interacting with children, a minimum 6-month rule for membership before serving with children and youth, age limits for serving with different age groups, protocols for diaper changing and handling the toileting needs for preschoolers, mandatory background checks and a detailed process for checking-in and releasing children.

Policies are only as good as the enforcement that the church provides. When short staffed, it is easy to ignore the requirements for approval for service. In the event an accusation of molestation or abuse occurs, the courts will have no sympathy for a church that fails to follow their own written policy.

Training
Every staff member, volunteer and parent should be informed about, and trained on, the church’s safety and security policy.

Senior staff should insure that training is a priority and allocate budget for ongoing training and background checks. A periodic review of the effectiveness and enforcement of the policy should be on the to-do list of senior staff.

Check-in/check-out system
Every church, no matter the size or number of children, should have a plan for securely receiving and releasing children to their parents or guardian. This can be as simple as a sign in sheet, matching tags or as elaborate as an electronic check-in system that prints matching stickers.

In today’s culture, parents may be separated and the church may have no notification of a custody agreement. A parent without custodial rights may arrive at church and the child may be released to them simply because they are the parent. Requiring proof that the person who picks up the child after service has the authority to do so is vitally important and protects both the child and the church. An emphasis on using the system designed by the church is crucial.

Many of today’s electronic check-in systems can be accessed through smart phones and are tied into the church’s software system for management of attendance records.

All of the steps listed above are important to millennial parents. If your church is diligent in ensuring the safety and security of its children, consider posting this information on your church’s website. It can make a difference in a parent’s decision to visit your church. Failure to have and enforce safety and security policies can impact a parent’s decision to continue attending your church. Senior leadership needs to take the lead in this important area of children’s ministry and understand the role intentional safety and security plays in outreach to your community’s millennial parents.


by Cheryl Markland  
/  Childhood Evangelism and Discipleship  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

Board approves conduct policy for convention officials

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) board of directors voted unanimously to adopt a policy that establishes a process by which certain officials could be removed from their places of service for cases of “serious misconduct” and other criteria in accordance...

CP giving ‘flat,’ but special offerings up in 2019

Cooperative Program (CP) giving from North Carolina Baptist churches totaled slightly more than $29 million in 2019, which was a 5.2 percent increase from 2018, but still about 6.2% below last year’s budget amount of $31 million.Despite the approximate $1.9 million shortfall, the...

Conference to emphasize ‘Gospel Above All’

There is nothing more important in life than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone needs to hear the gospel, and as followers of Christ, we never outgrow our need for the gospel. The message of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is both life-changing and life-altering....

“21st century Moses”

In 2004, God gave me a clear vision to raise up leaders who have the kind of faith Moses had. Just as God met Moses and sent him back to Egypt to bring his people to the Promised Land, God will meet immigrants today and send them back home to spread the gospel — we just have to...

Are our blindspots preventing racial reconciliation?

Are our blindspots preventing racial reconciliation? “Part of being human is having blindspots. My experience opens my eyes to some things yet blurs my vision on some other things.” Walter Strickland, assistant professor and associate vice president for diversity at Southeastern...

Two churches in one building

Five years ago, in a yearly planning meeting with the staff of Flint-Gloves Baptist Church, two simple and straightforward questions were posed that would radically change our church: 1. Are we being good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us? 2. Has God given us resources...

Room at the table

James, the brother of Jesus Christ, defines the fruit of true religion: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).Jan. 19 is Sanctity of Human Life...

Q&A: Jimmy Scroggins on leadership, vision, evangelism, church culture and more

Jimmy Scroggins is lead pastor of Family Church in South Florida. He is dedicated to building families in South Florida through a network of neighborhood churches that help people in their community discover and pursue God’s design. Scroggins will be the keynote speaker at this...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news and event information by signing up for the Childhood Ministry newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!