Are You Enforcing Your Church’s Child Protection Policy?

Are You Enforcing Your Church’s Child Protection Policy?

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education.

November 24, 2014—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

First Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, NC

Kentucky Baptist Convention

Model Policies for the Protection of Children and Youth from Abuse

The Gospel Coalition 

Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education 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.

4 thoughts on “Are You Enforcing Your Church’s Child Protection Policy?”

  1. Julie says:

    Our church does not want to have a policy. Nothing has ever happened, and they see a policy now as a reflection on prior teachers. How do they come to see that a policy now is not an indication that they did anything wrong, but that we want things to continue going well in the future?

    1. See author’s response below.

  2. Israel Galindo says:

    Hello, Julie. This happens on occasion, folks see this as a lack of trust as opposed to a responsible necessity. At some point your church’s leadership just needs to get past the reactivity and make this happen. One leverage for most churches is that having a child protection policy is likely a REQUIREMENT of your church insurance policy. Check it out and if it’s there leverage it.

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