Big Church, Little Church – It all begins with C!
Last week KidCheck attended The Children’s Pastors’ Conference in La Mesa California, as both a resource provider and a workshop presenter. The KidCheck workshop was called “The Child Protection Policy Unwrapped” and covered the most essential elements of establishing an effective Child Protection Policy (CPP).
The goal of the workshop is to minimize the grey area regarding interacting with kids and to provide a framework for setting up a unique policy with clear guidelines. CPP is a BIG topic and to try and do it any justice in an hour is always a difficult task. However, this workshop had a lot of great discussion. The mix of attendees was very diverse: In attendance were church plants, small ministries, military bases, on up to mega churches with large, and I mean large, kidmin organizations represented. While the workshop content is interesting and informative, it didn’t hold a candle to the discussion that took place during the workshop.
Listed below are the top five takeaways from the workshop discussion regarding child safety and abuse prevention:
- Most may assume, myself included, that the larger the ministry, the more resources they have and the less problems they encounter when it comes to improving child safety. Not true! Those from the larger programs shared that while child safety and abuse prevention are top of mind, it’s much more difficult to establish and enforce safety policies. This is due to the amount of ancillary ministries utilizing kidmin resources such as class room space for meetings. It’s not always easy to separate the kids from potential scenarios that could be harmful.
- As the title of the post reads, “Big Church, Little Church it all begins with C.” C equals children! I was surprised at how many ministries prioritize connecting with the kids over programs, activities, and all the entertainment stuff. This is a good to see.
- Depending on the location of your church, you may have a growing number of immigrants, some of whom may be illegal, that would like to volunteer in the children’s ministry. Essentially, KidCheck’s stance is if you cannot complete a background check due to lack of personal information, they should not have access to the children – no matter how friendly they may appear. Consistency with kindness is always the goal.
- Bullying is a serious issue and is becoming more prevalent in children’s ministry. It was shared, that staff and volunteers are starting to see it happen at a much younger age. Two questions asked included, “What is the actual definition of bullying?” and “How can I recognize it?” Our workshop group identified three characteristics of bullying which include an intentional, repeated act that involves an imbalance of power. With regards to identifying the behavior, bullying comes in various forms and can include: verbal and physical assaults, relational bullying which includes shunning, ignoring, or excluding someone, and in some cases cyber bullying. Stay tuned for more on this topic in the future.
- Lastly, we discussed how to respond to allegations of abuse and disclosure. This is another very large topic. However, we agreed having a written policy that outlines how such an event should be handled is imperative. Staff, volunteers and leadership should all be trained in the proper response, and that most of all timing is critical. Disclosure informs the congregation that an incident has taken place, supports the individual making the claim, and encourages staff and volunteers to make prevention the goal.
Whether you’re a small organization or a very large one, child safety and abuse prevention are worth investing time into. If you would like to see additional tips and tricks for improving the overall safety of your ministry, we encourage you to visit the KidCheck blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest for the latest safety information.
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