There's a lot of talk about building a wall these days. This post is not about a wall at our borders.
The wall I'm talking about is a wall that every children's ministry needs to build to protect the children in their church.
One of the most important things parents look for in today's world is safety. They want to know their children will be protected and safe while at church. They are very aware of the shootings that have happened at churches. And they know it can happen at any size church.
You want your ministry to have a strong wall that keeps predators out. Let's look some steps you can take to build a strong wall of protection around your ministry. The more of these steps you have in place, the strong your "keep predators out" wall will be.
Build a wall by having potential volunteers fill out an application. You can get a free copy of the application I use at this link.
Build a wall with a personal interview. Sit down with each potential volunteer and interview them. Look them in the eye and ask them the hard questions. You can get a free copy of the interview form I use at this link.
Remember this: It is no one's right to serve, it is a privilege.
Build a wall by running a background check on everyone. If you get a red flag on someone's application, work with a team of 2-3 people to help you make a wise decision. Establish ahead of time what your guidelines will be for someone with a red flag on their report. An example would be someone who is saved out of a lifestyle of using and selling illegal drugs. How long will they need to wait to serve in children's ministry? You have a policy in place that says the person must be clean for 3 years before they can serve in children's ministry. Are there other places in your church where they could serve until the 3 years have passed? Yes. An example might be with the parking team.
One thing excludes someone from ever serving in children's ministry. That's the person who has abused or molested a child. They should never be allowed to serve in children's ministry. In fact, if it was sexual abuse, they should not be allowed on your campus at all. They will need to watch online.
Build a wall by doing reference calls. Yes. Actually pick up the phone and call them. I was talking with someone recently who was dealing with a predator. The person had come from another church in the area. He had been convicted of child abuse and had been banned from the previous church. He went over to another church in the area and tried to sign up to serve in children's ministry. Because of reference calls they were able to stop him before he started serving.
Build a wall by never having someone alone with a child. There must be 2 people with a child at all times. One of the two should be an adult. The second person can be a student ministry volunteer. Never...never...never allow someone to be alone with a child. A married couple doesn't count as 2 people in the room.
Build a wall by not allowing anyone in the children's area without a pick-up tag. Stand at the door and enforce this.
Build a wall by locking down the children's area once service starts. You want as many barriers as possible in place if a shooter tried to enter.
Build a wall with a check-in and check-out security system. Only parents with a matching tag are allowed to pick up the child. I highly recommend KidCheck. You can connect with them at www.kidcheck.com.
Build a wall by having a police officer on-site during services and events. In today's culture, parents are thankful when they see an officer there. You can also have a volunteer security team. Train them about what to do in scenarios where security is compromised.
The more of these steps you take, the stronger your wall will be. How strong is your wall right now? What can you do to make it even stronger?
Build a wall of protection around your ministry. Watch closely for predators and be ready to keep them out. Say "no children will be abused on my watch."
Your turn. What else do you do build a wall of protection for the kids in your ministry? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.