By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning
It’s hard to imagine but there are still churches that have no child protection policies in place (I know, I ask). That’s just a tragedy waiting to happen. Another issue is that while some congregations have adopted child protection policies they fail to ensure oversight for compliance. In the press of circumstances it’s often too easy to lean toward what is convenient rather than what is right.
Does your church have a child protection policy? If you don’t know, ask. If the answer is “yes,” then ask about how well the policy is enforced and monitored. Sometimes, a change in staff leads to things falling by the wayside. A new staff member or committee chair may not be as diligent as a previous leader in monitoring for compliance. Also, as with all policies, a change in institutional development often calls for a change in policy. It is worth revisiting the church child protection policies periodically.
Years ago, when my church created its child protection policy there were few resources or examples available to help guide the process of crafting such a policy. Like anything “new” in a congregation there was a lot of resistance, with all sorts of reasons given as to why our church didn’t need one. One thing that helped get some folks past the resistance was inviting a representative of our church insurance agency to educate our congregational members about the importance of having such a policy and about the consequences of not having the policy in place. That was a huge step in helping people get past irresponsible notions tied to emotionality. Today there are ample resources available to churches to educate members about the importance of a child protection policy, and how to go about developing and implementing one.
If you haven’t checked, ask, “Are we enforcing our church child protection policy?” Now’s a good time to check, before the year’s children’s and youth programming schedules start. And if your church doesn’t have one, here are some on-line resources:
“Your Church Needs A Child Protection Policy,” from e-ssortment
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.
His books on Christian education include The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H).
Galindo contributes to the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans