Spring breaks are vastly approaching. This means that there will be a lot of students, college-level and K-12 age children, that will be vacationing and seeking other avenues for their recreational activities.
For some, options will vary and others will be limited due to their families present economic status or work schedule. This will cause many parents to utilize their church or local community church for youth programs and camps, which is a great solution!
As safe of a place the church is expected to be, you should still do your research. Think about it: Regardless of the high-quality rating a school has you would still tour the school and meet with the administrators before you just entrust them with the most valuable gift God has allowed you to produce.
The same scrutiny should be applied to the church.
As I state in my latest book of memoirs, “The church was designed to be a more prominent safe haven than school. However, it is the church that is more relaxed in its approach to handling abuse in families” (Hastings, 2017 p 14).
Let’s be honest. We feel so confident in churches that sometimes we sign our children up for activities or drop them off at the nursery or youth service while we are rushing to get in fellowship with other believers and allow God to refill our spiritual tanks that sometimes appears to be on empty that we do not even question their safety.
This is the confidence in our churches we want to have and should have.
But this trust is earned. It is not given based solely upon the reputation of the church, how admired the pastor is or how gifted the youth leaders are. As parents, we have a right and responsibility to question everything that involves our children.
If you are already active at your church and you have relationships established, then great! Even so, here are a few tips to help you be a PI (Parent Investigator).
What Parents Need to Know about Church
- Who is in Charge? Depending upon the size of the church, the senior pastor may not be the person in charge of your children. Even though the issue of child safety is ultimately his or her responsibilities, most churches have a youth pastor or youth leaders who are in direct contact with your children. You need to know who this person(s) is.
- Background Checks. As one who has managed volunteers working with children, I can confirm that there are private agency requirements in place, as well as, mandated state and local government laws in place for those that spend a set amount of time around children. Although all volunteers may not be required to be background checked, any person serving as a youth pastor or leader is more than likely spending the minimum hours a week with your child that requires them to undergo a background check. Do you know if your church completes background checks on staff and volunteers?
- Incident Reporting. The last thing that any parent wants to happen to their children is an accident or traumatic incident. I also discuss this in my book and state how some churches are “…confused about their authority and responsibility” (p. 15). Is your church trained to know they have a duty to report to you and if need be authorities in the event something law-breaking happens to your child?
I know this can feel like a sticky subject that you might be uncomfortable with addressing, but the Church must Talk about it. As a parent, you are a part of that church. God has entrusted you to be a steward over your children. Children are not responsible for making sure their environments are safe. We the parents and adults are charged with this high priority task.
As you start preparing for school break, just keep these tips in mind. May you and especially your child, have a great Spring Break!