Wolves Among Sheep


Excuses, Excuses

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Excuses vary from “It could never happen here” to “We can’t scare
off the few volunteers we have with that!” Excuse-proof your
ministry with these responses to protect the children in your

“It could never happen here.” Oh, yes it could.
One thing that makes it difficult to spot abusers without security
procedures is that they look like regular people. They come in all
ages, genders, socioeconomic levels, locations, spiritual
maturities, and ethnicities. If you don’t believe it, visit familywatchdog.us to find registered sex
offenders in your area.

“It’ll scare off potential volunteers.” Yes, it
might, and volunteers can be tough to recruit. “Most churches hurt
for volunteers,” agrees Holsten, who has extensive experience as a
police officer and criminal investigator; but he warns: “Sexual
predators may be the first to offer help — hoping for an eventual
‘pay off’ for their efforts.”

Think about this: How many more volunteers would be scared off by
an actual case of child abuse or even a hint of impropriety in your
children’s ministry? Not to mention the families who would flee as

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It costs too much.” Does it? You can pay now –
or pay later. With Shepherd’s Watch background checks at safechurch.com, you can get a
comprehensive background check for $9 per person. Even with 1,000
volunteers, that’s a cost of $9,000. Compare that with the hundreds
of thousands your church will pay with one allegation and lawsuit
of child abuse. If you face litigation, courts look at whether you
applied “due diligence” — that you did everything
reasonably required to protect kids. Background and
reference checks for all volunteers and staff is the first step of
what’s reasonably required.

Get your team to chip in. Dave Thornton, Director of Church
Volunteer Central and safechurch.com, says, “Many
churches ask their volunteers to pay for the background check so it
doesn’t take such a big chunk out of the ministry budget.”

“The process is too complicated.” Only if you try
to do it all yourself. At Shepherd’s Watch, you download the
“Permission to Obtain a Background Check” form and have each
volunteer sign and date it. Then enter the volunteer’s data and
view a completed report in less than a minute. It’s not too

“Our volunteers have been teaching forever. I
can’t ask them now.” Why not? All your volunteers need to know is
your heart.

“Churches must protect our little ones — whatever the challenge,”
says Anita Weldon, Discovery Island director at NorthRidge Church
in Plymouth, Michigan. “Satan is out there working to destroy God’s
work and the lives of our kids and adults.”

Let your volunteers know first about your heart for children
loving God in a safe environment, and then explain the risk (use
this article). Assure everyone of complete confidentiality. Make no
exceptions and conduct a background check on your entire

“Everyone knows everyone here.” Really? That may
be the problem. Studies show that 85 percent of children are
molested by someone they know. The sad fact is that whenever a
pastor, teenager, grandmother, parent, or anyone abuses a child,
people say things like, “I never dreamed she could do that.” Of
course not! That’s why child molesters can get close to children –
we don’t suspect them, and deception is the best weapon in their

“My volunteers are concerned about identity
Not to worry, according to Thornton. “Securing
background checks does require a church to gather personal
information, including Social Security numbers,” he says. “Assure
your volunteers that all forms will be stored in a secure locked
file cabinet.”

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