Background checks have become a necessity in children’s ministry over the past 10 to 15 years in order to protect the children in our churches’ care.
Many instances of abuse involving church leaders have come to light in recent years, and parents who visit your church are understandably wary of leaving their children with strangers.
The security of our children outweighs any argument against the requirement of background checks, which provide reassurance to parents and help protect the reputation of your ministry.
If your church does not carry out background checks on every individual who works with children and students, my best advice is do them now and continue doing them as new volunteers come into your ministry. Any new volunteer should be vetted before being allowed to work with minors.
The small investment of time and money to complete these steps now will provide valuable protection in the long run.
Here are three common questions about background checks and possible responses you as a children’s ministry leader can offer in support:
- I have known these people my entire life. Why should they get a background check?
Your children’s ministry is likely a team of wonderful, godly volunteers you know and trust. But new or visiting parents may not know these volunteers. Requiring background checks for all volunteers shows parents you have taken steps to ensure their children are in safe hands.
- Privacy is important. Won’t volunteers be insulted if I ask them to provide personal information?
If a children’s volunteer is insulted or annoyed about filling out a background check, perhaps that individual is better suited to another area of service. Those who protest may be sending up a red flag deserving of further consideration.
In my experience, most volunteers are aware of the reasons background checks are necessary, and they want to be an example to others.
- Background checks cost money. What if our church budget is too small to do checks on all our volunteers?
A basic background check is relatively inexpensive. If your church budget cannot cover the cost, ask volunteers to pay for their own or pay a partial amount — you might be pleasantly surprised how many workers will take on the expense.
The church will still be in charge of the background check, but by helping with the fee, volunteers are making an investment in your ministry.
After all, serving the children of your church is an honor and privilege, even if it costs something.
- Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions has a partnership with MinistrySafe and offers a coupon for a discount on the first year’s fee: alsbom.org/ministry-safe-discount.
- Protect My Ministry helps faith-based organizations maintain a safe environment: protectmyministry.com.
- Verified First specializes in background and drug screenings: verifiedfirst.com.