Because of the events last week in Connecticut where innocent children were killed, most everyone who works with kids is thinking, “what if that happened in the place where I work?” If you haven’t had this thought, you should. We are charged to take our role as both physical and spiritual guardians very seriously and we should do everything we reasonably can to make our ministry environments a safe place for the kids who come.
So, before I write any more content on this subject and before you read any further, ask yourself this question. Where are the weak spots in your ministry? Where are the places that need to be shored up to keep your kids, families and volunteers safe. I’m crazy about safety and over the weekend, several areas came to mind, things we can do better or ways we can make our ministry area more secure. What comes to your mind?
Here’s the challenge. Take action on at least one thing this week. Bust it out and make it happen. It’s worth the effort and if it’s a public change, it communicates good things to parents. We made a slight change this weekend. We posted signs on all our doors letting them know that our ministry areas lock-down 15 minutes after the service begins. This means that the doors actually lock and parents coming in after this time are escorted. We also amped up our security checked to make sure that every adult walking into our ministry areas had claim tags. Several parents expressed appreciation. Everyone is thinking about it right now. The challenge for you though is to continue to hold the banner of security high. Although everyone is especially raw right now, it will pass. Security won’t be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, unfortunately, but it must be for you. Here are some simple reminder of easy steps to take:
- Update or create a ministry policy manual (you can check out my collection here). Don’t reinvent the wheel. Borrow, copy and tweak what you see and put one together.
- Train your volunteers. Yes, volunteers don’t flock to training meetings. Get creative. Put a quick 5 minute training on vimeo or YouTube. Go over training points in your pre-service meetings. Make sure that every volunteer knows the essential policies and procedures that regard safety and security.
- Background check, background check, background check! If you don’t run background checks…. DO IT! NO EXCUSES! If your leadership says no, help them to change their answer to a yes or you need to run from that church because they don’t value the safety of kids and when something happens at that church, you own responsibility.
- Update your evacuation, emergency and intruder policies/procedures. Do your volunteers know what to do if something happens? Make sure they do (this is an area we’re working on right now).
Think safety now and always!
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