5 Ways To Ensure Your Children's Ministry Is Safe & Secure
The most important role a children's pastor has in the ministry is keeping kids safe and secure.
Your Kids Ministry can and should be fun and engaging, and you can have a plethora of volunteers and exciting events, but the number one concern for parents is the safety of their most prized possessions while they're in your care. Earning parents' trust by having high security standards is paramount to keeping families engaged.
Here is a checklist of the top five ways to ensure your Children's Ministry stays effective for years to come by remaining safe and secure.
1. Background Checks
This seems like common sense, but you’d be amazed at how many churches do not require full background/criminal checks for their KidMin volunteers. Every person that steps foot into your Children's Ministry to serve in any capacity should be run through a full background/criminal check as well as cross-referenced with the national sex-offender database.
If anything causes a caution flag or hints at a questionable background, lean into it by sitting down over coffee to discuss it with the volunteer in question. If you still have concerns, encourage them to serve in another ministry, like greeting or parking, and be sure to give that ministry leader a “heads up.” These types of conversations are difficult, but always lean towards the side of caution.
2. Check In & Out Policies
An official check in & check out process is paramount to kids' safety. If you haven't asked these questions yet, it would benefit your Children's Ministry to discuss these with your team: Can older siblings check kids out of your program? What about a parent that didn’t check the child in? Do you have a “permission policy” for who is allowed to check out kids?
Suppose a mother checks in her child at the first service, and the father comes 20 minutes before service is over and needs to pick up the same child. What is your procedure? Everything could be normal in this situation, and the family has simply decided to leave early; however, things could have gone very wrong last night between mom and dad, and this situation could pose a security issue that you're unaware of. Defining a policy beforehand may seem redundant and often annoying to the “normal state of operation,” but it greatly reduces your risk for things to go wrong.
3. Well-Trained Volunteers
There will always be pressure to have more volunteers. One thing I’ve learned, however, is the more training and knowledge a volunteer has about their role in ministry, the longer they stay involved. Teach your team about your procedures for keeping kids safe. Be clear as to why you do what you do so that there is an understanding and a purpose behind the guardrails you set up for the ministry.
Developing a team of consistent KidMin volunteers that understand the policies and procedures ensures that your kids are in good hands.
4. Clear Plans & Procedures
Growing up, I made some pretty stupid mistakes. I didn’t get in trouble often, but when I did, it was typically when I did something without thinking first. My parents would often end the discussion with, “God gave you a brain, use it!”
Oddly enough, this advice applies here. Begin now to create a plan, not only for prevention of serious security issues, but also for any kind of security breaches that could happen. What actions would need to be taken if ____________ happened? Start to design clear prevention strategies and easy to follow action steps in case something happens. Make sure this plan is posted where your KidMin team can access it whenever they need it.
5. A Watchful Eye
Being aware is the key to success for church leaders.
Once you establish policies and procedures, don’t depend on them. These guardrails are simply that: they help keep things on track, but they don’t completely prevent an issue from arising. Always be mindful of who is in the kids' area and why they’re there. Understand your facility's or volunteers' weaknesses and keep an eye on them. Develop a team of people who think like you and can help see these weak spots.
As a leader, there are many moving parts to think about during a weekend service, but none are as important as the security of the kids God has entrusted to your leadership.
What are some steps you can take to improve the security of your Children's Ministry?
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