Learn To Protect:
Keeping your church a safe place
The safety of those we minister to is a top priority, but so is reaching the lost and dying world. How do you balance the two? Our church just got done with a really big event for our area. We invited the entire community in for a big outreach event. When you invite the community, you really can’t have a person at the door checking IDs, or asking people whether they have a sexual addiction problem, so what do you do to protect the precious people in your congregation?
We have some regular practices in place that help us to be ready for strangers in our building. Here are just a few.
1. We have a group of men who are patrolling our building in plain clothes. Their primary job is watching people, and keeping an eye on people who are known offenders. They also are watching that unauthorized people do not enter the areas not open to the public.
2. In our building, we have two floors above our main area that are just plainly off limits to everyone but regular staff people on big day events. You do not need to let the public into every nook and cranny of your facility.
3. Our church office keeps a printed file, with picture, of all the registered sex offenders in our community. Our men who patrol, as well as our staff and department leaders, review the file before the big events so they can recognize people they need to keep an eye on.
4. If a known offender walks in and is recognized, the key staff people and men who patrol are each privately alerted, so many eyes are available to watch.
5. We are still welcoming to those people. They need Jesus too! We just make sure that they don’t go into off limit areas, or single out one of our young people. At one recent event, I noticed a known offender come in and sit next to a young teen girl who was sitting alone. I caught the girl’s attention, and asked her to come and help me with a small task, then told her in private that she should find somewhere else to sit, instead of sitting with the man. I didn’t need to scare her, or offend the man, I just needed to provide a different place for her.
6. We over staff our events. We also identify our volunteers with special t-shirts or name badges, so it is easy to see there is a small army watching. When people know the importance of protecting our people, they are willing to help!
Nothing is more important that protecting your people from predators. Wise church leaders take time to think things through to prevent a public outreach event from becoming a disastrous day in the life of an innocent.
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