June 9, 2022
Written by Craig Cable, American Church Group of Colorado, Nebraska, Dakotas, Wyoming, Kansas
This summer is shaping up to be a banner year for churches offering Vacation Bible School (VBS) or summer day camps. After a couple of years of cancellations, mask mandates, and social distancing, that is refreshing and encouraging news.
As we prepare to welcome droves of children into our summer activities, we want to make sure that we do everything we can to make their experience enjoyable, memorable, and safe.
The following is a breakdown of several best practices and free resources to help ensure that your ministry is prepared and protected.
Unfortunately, volunteer numbers are one area that has not rebounded as well as others. Most ministries that I work with are struggling to attract volunteers back to serving; this is especially true in children’s ministry. While we may be spread a little thin, it is important that we not overlook the critical step of background screening of all our volunteers.
According to a 2021 article on ChurchLeaders.com, sexual predators may be targeting churches because it provides easy and often unchallenged access to children. This editorial piece identifies six reasons why sexual predators target churches. It draws its conclusions from a 2014 book written by Deepak Reju called On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church.
It is important to note that the very practice of requiring background checks of ALL volunteers can serve as a deterrent that will help keep potential offenders from attempting to serve. For checklists and best practices to make sure that you are doing everything you can to screen out potential threats, visit: https://www.brotherhoodmutual.com/resources/background-screening/
While we must identify individuals with a criminal history, we must also remember that only a third of sexual abuse incidences are reported. And of those that are reported, very few are criminally charged and prosecuted.
On average, 70 allegations of child abuse are reported in churches each week, according to studies reported by Christianity Today. Having guidelines for one-on-one interaction plus Implementing best practices such as the “Two-Adult Rule” and applying the “Rule of Three” would have prevented most, if not all, of those incidences.
As you prepare for the summer’s activities, you must communicate to your staff and volunteers that if they see something that does not look or feel right, they need to report it immediately. I also recommend that you identify a staff point person where those concerns can be directed in a timely and consistent manner.
Brotherhood Mutual offers a free download that is packed with best practices, checklists, and forms that you can use to keep your children’s ministry safe. Download it here at: https://www.brotherhoodmutual.com/resources/safety-library/publications/guidelines-for-ministry-workers/guidelines-for-ministry-workers/
Whether it is a medical emergency, a security threat, or the approach of dangerous weather, every ministry must have a plan in place before it finds itself in the middle of a crisis.
For medical emergencies, I would encourage you to have a well-stocked first-aid kit readily available. I am not just talking about a “boo-boo” kit with some Band-Aids. I am talking about an actual kit that can make a difference if someone is seriously hurt. For a handy list of basic skills needed and first-aid kit contents, visit https://www.brotherhoodmutual.com/resources/safety-library/risk-management-articles/disasters-emergencies-and-health/accidents-and-medical-response/first-aid-be-ready-to-respond/.
For security threats, I highly recommend having a designated person or persons watch for potential concerns and intervening when necessary. Those concerns could be anything from unauthorized contact by a non-custodial parent to concerning behavior that could lead to an injury or potential abuse. Having someone dedicated to this role will help them stay focused on the vital task at hand of keeping kids safe.
Summertime often brings a high likelihood of inclement weather. For summer activities that take place outside, you must have a backup plan at the ready should you need to retreat indoors. For example, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the “30-30 rule.” After you see lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. You will want to suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
Here at American Church Group, we take the responsibility of being your risk management partner very seriously. We strive to identify and mitigate risks that may impact your ministry. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your policy or ministry practices, please don’t hesitate to contact your local agent or email our customer support team. We are here to help in any way we can.
Craig Cable - Director of Ministry Safety and Strategic Partnerships
Craig is a church safety expert and professional trainer dedicated to helping ministries serve their communities while still being vigilant to safety or security concerns. He was the lead developer of the Safe and Secure Church: The Ministry Approach training kit and is an author and guest speaker on the topic of church safety. He also serves as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff and leads the church safety team for a multi-campus ministry in Northern Colorado.
With Valentine’s Day upon us and the official May-to-October wedding season not far behind, many couples are searching for the perfect wedding venue. Schools and performing arts organizations are looking for end-of-year performance and graduation venues. Your church or nonprofit facility might be the perfect match. Engaging the opportunity has stewardship and community outreach benefits. But opening your facilities to other activities and users involves risk. A Facility Use Policy sets the standard for your facility use. A Facility Use Agreement implements that standard. To be effective, leaders must answer three questions.
The focus of this article is to address some of the risks and liabilities associated with having an armed safety team. Click here to read PART ONE.
Over the last few years, our agency has continued to grow and expand across the Midwest & Rockies, now spanning six states: Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Serving over 3,000 ministries and nonprofit organizations, we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to support you.
Do you ever feel like some words just get overused? I do. I live in a house with two teenagers and a sweet little boy who watches everything they do. The word "literally", gets used in 80% of sentences... It isn't even impactful anymore. It means nothing. Because if they didn't use that word, I would just expect that most of what they were saying was metaphoric in nature.
The new year signals the end of one payroll year and the beginning of another. As you process employee W2s and independent contractor 1099s, take time to evaluate a critical aspect of your ministry business risk management program: proper worker classification. While the percentage of the American workforce comprising “contingent workers” (independent contractors, contract employees, temporary employees, leased employees) was rapidly increasing before COVID, since COVID and the acceptance of the remote workplace, use of contingent workers has skyrocketed. You probably have several on your payroll.
Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to speak with several thousand church safety team members across the country. By far the most common question I get from this group is “Am I covered if something bad happens?” This is not a question that only pertains to armed safety team members. Truth is, anyone who serves in the protection of a ministry should be asking that question. The purpose of this article is to help ministries be better informed and more prepared in advance of an incident occurring.
We’re encouraging all customers to stay ahead of the freezing weather by signing up to receive Extreme Freezing Weather Text Alerts from Brotherhood Mutual. It’s new. The alert also links to actions you can take immediately to prevent or minimize damage to your buildings before forecasted weather arrives.
Join us for a comprehensive, one-day training for all! Tailored breakout sessions cover complex HR topics for administration and provides in-depth training, including a deeper review into de-escalation, for the security team. In the afternoon, unite in a deep dive on child safety with proprietary insights the anatomy of an abuse claim and protecting our youth.
One positive aspect of today’s challenged economy is the availability of underutilized or empty commercial space. Before your ministry takes the plunge into a lease agreement, we want to make sure you're well-informed and prepared to avoid some common pitfalls.
In this month's perspective on the insurance market, I wanted to talk about the massive upward trending we are seeing in cancellation of policies. Our agency has observed a remarkable surge in inquiries from churches not currently under our insurance coverage. These churches are facing non-renewal by their existing carriers, a trend that has expanded beyond the norm of non-renewals due to excessive losses. Instead, carriers are now opting not to renew based on the risk profile of the ministry, which encompasses factors like geography, insured value, and construction type.
There are so many insurance policies to consider when it comes to protecting your ministry, and keeping track of each one’s coverages can be a mind-numbing task. One that I often hear confusion about is the Excess Liability policy, more commonly referred to as an Umbrella. While these terms aren’t exactly interchangeable in the broader insurance world, they do have a lot of overlap. For purposes of understanding your Brotherhood Mutual policy, they are basically synonymous.
In recent times, our team has observed a growing demand for key man life insurance, particularly within the realm of church leadership. Pastors are the spiritual pillars of their congregations, providing guidance, support, and a sense of community. While their spiritual contributions are invaluable, it's equally important to consider their financial well-being and the stability of the church should an unforeseen tragedy occur.
The holiday season is fast approaching, and it's time to prepare for the festive cheer, delicious food, twinkling lights, and heartwarming gatherings. But amidst all the joy and celebration, let's take a moment to reflect on something essential - the well-being of our ministry leaders.
Water damage due to plumbing leaks and frozen pipes is a leading cause of property claims for ministries. The damage is often made worse because ministry buildings are typically not in use every day. Last year, nearly 1,000 Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company customers were impacted. To help protect ministries from experiencing costly water damage and disruptions, Brotherhood Mutual® recommends FloLogic, a comprehensive solution that can detect even the smallest water leak and automatically shut off the water to prevent flooding.
Let's take a stroll down memory lane to 1938 when General Electric made a groundbreaking move by introducing fluorescent tubes to the world. Even though the technology had been brewing since the late 1880s, it took time and the genius of several inventors to make it shine as a practical product.
We are living in a day and age of tremendous uncertainty. Like Joseph in Egypt, the physical world is incredibly unpredictable.
In the ever-changing realm of finances, the past few years have brought forth a whirlwind of alterations. Looking ahead, the next five years promise their fair share of surprises and uncertainties.
In the dynamic landscape of today's world, managing the HR needs of any ministry can be a complex and ever-changing endeavor. Whether you're dealing with sensitive situations that demand careful handling to avoid legal entanglements or aiming to proactively establish risk management strategies, the journey can be demanding.
As we gear up for the upcoming school season, it's a fantastic opportunity to take a closer look at the coverage we offer to our beloved students and dedicated volunteers.