1. Background Checks
Do them. Did you know the Lifeway OneSource program provides discounted prices on background checks for churches and religious organizations looking to protect their ministries? For as little as $10, you can screen your staff, volunteers, treasurers, teachers, bus drivers, camp counselors, and more. For us, the non-negotiable here is that every pastor or staff member and every person who’ll have access to babies, children, preteens, and teens must have a background check. But we also encourage you to consider running a background check on anyone who’ll serve as a leader in the church.
2. Due Diligence
Let’s start with staff members. If you’re about to hire your next minister, by all means, check their references. Don’t be fooled by an advanced degree and vast experience. Take the time to walk that experience back. Contact a potential hire’s previous churches and the schools they graduated from and you’ll learn if their resume is legit. But more importantly, you may save your church from a disaster you could’ve avoided.
3. Never Alone
We completely understand how hard it is to get one volunteer for a class, let alone two. However, it’s worth the work.
Pastors shouldn't counsel alone, nor is it wise for someone to be left alone with children. This lessens the chance of something inappropriate happening. It also provides an added set of eyes on active children who require supervision.
4. Six Months
EVERY church should adopt a six-month policy. Before volunteers can serve children and youth at church, they must first be members of the church and active in worship and Sunday School for at least six months. This gives you time to get to know the person, allows them time to plug into small groups, and provides you time to build trust and accountability.
5. Be On Guard
We don’t want this article to sound like we want you to be suspicious of everyone. That’s certainly not what we are suggesting. But be on guard. Pastors are shepherds; they have beeb entrusted by God to protect His sheep. Part of that means getting your head out of the sand if you don’t think something bad can happen at your church. It also means leading your church members to get their heads out of the sand, too. Again, the goal isn’t to make your congregation suspicious of everyone; it’s to help them realize the weight of being entrusted with a flock.
The reputation of the church is the least of your worries.
Your very first step is to call 911 (or your local jurisdiction’s avenue for reporting). Let the authorities do their job. Then, put on your shepherd hat and begin the process of caring for the abused, enacting church discipline on the abuser, and leading your church through adversity.