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5 Ways To Keep Our Children's Ministry Safe
We know firsthand that the children’s ministry is often one of the busiest places around the church. It doesn’t matter if we have 3 or 300 kids...the children’s ministry always seems to be the place where things are happening FAST and LOUD. Though the children’s ministry isn’t up on a stage, it has an impact that reaches deeper than any song or sermon.
To make the biggest impact with our teaching, the safety of our children's ministry has to be locked down. Combining our years of experience in children's ministry with some of the best ideas of our ministry partners, Here are 5 things we can do to keep our Children's Ministry safe:
1. Background Checks
Keeping our children safe starts with having the right volunteers and staff in place. By performing criminal background checks, we're able to keep people from serving in the children's ministry that should not be serving in that area. In turn, this helps keep both the volunteers and parents at ease knowing that there are no people serving that may have past disqualifiers. Learn more about how to perform background checks and how to keep track of them HERE.
2. Check-In Process
Having a process for checking in our children is one of the most effective ways to keep our children safe. A secure method for checking children in and out ensures that only approved individuals can interact with them. A check-in process also enables volunteers to record things like allergies, special notes, and take down an emergency contact number. In this day in age, parents expect to see a check-in process. Failing to have one will cause many visiting guests to question the safety of their children. Often times this results in them never coming back.
Do you have policies and procedures written down and easily accessible? Here are some examples:
The protocol for when children need to use the restroom.
A policy for outside food and drinks.
How to contact a parent if they are needed.
Policies for what makes a volunteer eligible to work with children.
Nametags or lanyards for every children's ministry volunteer.
We really recommend doing a few web searches for "Children's Ministry Procedures" to get some ideas to incorporate into your own. If we've learned anything, it's better to be thorough than vague.
4. Well Trained Volunteers
Notice here that we didn't say good volunteers. Very rarely are volunteers 100% capable and ready to serve. If there were, our jobs would be so easy that we could take vacations every other week! All of our people need to be taught the dos and don'ts of our ministry. This means training them well in advance and having them shadow others before they serve. When they are serving, always have your policies and procedures nearby for them to refer to.
In conjunction with our safety measures within the children's ministry, we need to have a security team and protocol in place to be there for the unthinkable. This includes security personnel, 2-way communication devices (like walkie talkies), and secure zones with locked doors during worship hours. The only individuals permitted in the children's ministry should be approved staff and volunteers.
We could go on for days about safety and security when it comes to children's ministry. We didn't even scratch the surface on Child Check-In or Background Checks.
One great resource to check out is our Facebook Group: ChurchTrac Users. The ChurchTrac Users Group is an active community of ministry leaders that share software tips, ministry knowledge, and give overall encouragement. Check it out!