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The 4 Do’s and Don’ts for Children’s Ministry Safety Awareness

Here are 4 do’s and 4 don’ts of safety awareness for your church and your children’s ministry.

“I’m going to tell my daughter! She thinks I’m too overprotective!”

This was a friend’s response when I told her about an email I had just gotten about an attempted kidnapping just a few miles from where we live. A 14-year-old girl was walking home from the pool and was approached by a strange man she did not recognize. When the man tried to grab her arm, she punched him in the stomach and ran home. Thankfully, she was only frightened and suffered no serious harm.

It gives you pause, though! Here she was in her own neighborhood, a few blocks from home where she should feel safe and protected. Instead, an intruder threatened her sense of security—and her actual well-being! I can only imagine what her mother must have thought when she received that phone call from her frantic daughter…

As parents, volunteers, church and ministry leaders, we cannot afford to ignore the times in which we live. I’m not talking about living in fear or an out-of-balance distrust of people. I am talking about being aware of certain realities and the responsibility we have to protect those who need protecting.

I think there are some basic DO’s and DON’Ts to be sure we are doing our “due diligence” and protecting those on our watch.

The 4 Do’s for Safety Awareness

1. Communicate with others about any real or perceived threats.

Talk to parents, teens, children, and volunteers. Ask on a regular basis if anyone has seen or heard anything out of the ordinary that could become a potential risk. Open the lines of communication so that everyone knows this is important to you and the church and that their input is valuable. Like my neighborhood email system, have a way to share information with the parties who need to know.

2. Implement a secure check-in/check-out system.

While this may seem like it only matters in large churches, I can assure you, the risk of a child being picked up by a non-custodial parent or estranged relative is the same in every church.

3. Train ALL volunteers on safety measures.

It happens to all of us. At the last minute a volunteer doesn’t show up, and we grab any “body” to run the check-in table or supervise the toddlers. Unfortunately, this is a prime area where mistakes happen and safety policies can get overlooked.

4. Share articles and updates with parents.

Take the time to share helpful articles and tips on safety, not just as they relate to church participation, but in other areas, too. This will remind parents to be extra diligent and also let them know that you take the safety of their kids seriously.

The 4 Don’ts for Safety Awareness

1. Don’t overlook other vulnerable ministries in your church.

I once read an article about a pastor who threw a special needs adult in the dumpster for doing a poor job cleaning the church bathroom. Anyone who works with special needs or the elderly must have proper training and supervision.

2. Don’t think church background checks are for other churches.

Develop a background check program that screens volunteers who will be working directly with these vulnerable people, especially children, youth, the elderly, and special needs. It may be a delicate issue in the beginning; remind people that you are mainly concerned with protecting those who need it.

3. Don’t ignore common sense, intuition, or the Holy Spirit.

These are ways God warns us and helps us avoid danger. Stop and listen, and train your volunteers to do the same!

4. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.

Make a point of praying for protection before every service or activity involving these vulnerable groups. This will help raise awareness in your volunteers and bring the wisdom necessary to protect those in your church.

Just like my friend, we may be accused of being overprotective or even of having a lack of faith, but that should not deter us from following the Lord’s leading and making safety a priority.

Sue Brage has experience as a writer, consultant, and communications specialist.

Looking for more information on keeping your ministry safe? Check out these posts!

11 thoughts on “The 4 Do’s and Don’ts for Children’s Ministry Safety Awareness

  1. This inhgsit's just the way to kick life into this debate.

  2. Looking forward to this.

  3. Debbie Jessup

    Love this. As preschool director in a small to medium sized church, it was difficult at times to convince church leaders of the importance of security for the group of children in our church least able to speak for or protect themselves. I spent 17+ years advocating for increased security measures. One checkin system also sold key tags to allow parents to check their kids in and out with no church staff monitoring necessary, but we chose not to use them and monitor check out as a safety precaution. Thanks so much for encouraging this important responsibility of taking the safety of children entrusted to your care as seriously as possible, as unto the Lord.

    • Sierra Archuleta

      Thank you Debbie for your kind words! We will always be proud advocates for children’s safety especially in children’s ministry classrooms. Thank you for sharing & glad you have found a system that is successful for your team.

  4. Donnie Ashford

    Thank you I have a meeting this week and will share some of your ideas.

  5. Donnie Ashford

    Thanks for sharing

  6. Donnie Ashford

    Will use these ideas thanks

  7. Joni Golembiewski

    Thank you, this is now how our church runs all of our youth and childrens programs. Great information.

    • Sierra Gomez

      So amazing to hear this Joni! Thank you for all your hard work in the ministry. God bless!

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