Photo credit: @beachbumledford via Twenty20
It is so exciting to have churches opening their doors back up after a year of being confined to online or outside services. However, with in-person services comes the needed implementation of church safety and security.
Having people back in the buildings means that staff and volunteers need to have a plan in place to keep the congregation and children safe.
Many parents choose a church based on their children’s ministry and whether or not they feel comfortable having their kids there. A major part of church growth is dependent on the children and youth programs in place.
There are multiple ways churches can implement safety and security. Here are some steps to take in keeping your church safe:
Select the right people for your ministry. One of the first steps in creating a safe environment at your church is to make sure that the people who are volunteering are properly vetted and serving in the correct spaces. Include an application and interview process for all volunteers. Screen them so you can get to know who is serving before they start. You’ll have a better idea of not only who they are as a person (and whether any red flags pop up), and you can also direct them to an appropriate area to serve. For example, somebody might want to serve in the children’s ministry but they may not have experience with kids, or they would be better at volunteering on the welcome team. You won’t know unless you have a proper screening process in place.
Implement background checks. Along with the volunteer application and interview process, it is extremely important to conduct background checks on all church staff and volunteers, especially if they are working directly with children. Even if they aren’t serving in the children’s ministry, kids are usually all around at church, so it is significant to have all volunteers screened for a criminal background check. For most parents, children’s ministry is one of the most important aspects that either keeps them coming back to that church or turns them away. The safety of their children truly matters, so if they know that your volunteers have all been background checked, it may help give them more peace of mind. Not to mention it could keep you from having to deal with lawsuits later on.
Stay up to date with volunteer tracking. Be aware of the status of your volunteers. Are they active or inactive? Have they been serving for years or are they just starting the process? If you know where they’re at in the journey, you can easily keep track of any trainings they’ve completed or paperwork they’ve filled out. Then you can follow up as needed.
Enforce child safety training. Provide child protection training materials and classes for all volunteers, but especially for those serving in the children’s ministry. There should be protocols and standards in place to keep children safe. Utilize the “two-person” rule, so a child is never alone with an adult. Consider having a safety team around the children’s area. Include emergency training in the classes and teach volunteers what to do if there is an illness or injury.
Have a safety/security team in place. Aside from having a safety team in the children’s ministry, train volunteers for other areas of the church as well. Have people in place that can help if a random person shows up to church who is acting strange and could harm others. Placing security members at entrances and exits and throughout the sanctuary and lobby could be helpful.
Host safety trainings for all volunteers. Along with the trainings for child safety and having a specifically designated security team, all volunteers should have some sort of training to help in case of emergencies. Consider hosting safety trainings throughout the year for all staff and volunteers, and especially for those who are in the onboarding process. The more people who are equipped to help, the better.
Go with the thorough background screening solution
Safety is incredibly important for churches. It’s not something everybody walking through the doors thinks about, but it’s something your church staff and volunteers should be aware of and have a plan in place. Get peace of mind and provide safety for your congregation through ShareFaith’s full-service background checks and child safety training for all areas of ministry.