“We thought our daughter was safe in the church youth group.”
“We trusted him. He went to our church and knew our family.”
“We had no idea the music pastor had a history of complaints at past churches.”
“With so much on my plate as a single mom, I was thankful to have a man investing in my son. I had no idea the devastation he was causing and the ongoing trauma he would cause.”
“My marriage was failing, and I thought the pastor would be a safe place to turn for counsel. He took advantage of me when I was most vulnerable.”
Churches should be a place of refuge for the most vulnerable. But out of a desire to trust others, to encourage service, and because of a need for volunteers, churches can sometimes quickly place people in positions to fill necessary spots. This can put the vulnerable in danger, especially children and youth. In this way, wolves have entered the flock in sheep’s clothing.
One step churches can take to ensure that staff and volunteers are suitable for the positions in which they serve is to implement a methodical process to recruit and screen employees. This often takes time. It quickly fills slots to have someone show up to church, receive a cheap background check, and start serving right away, but making careful hiring decisions is an important way to protect the flock.
As Pastor Vance Pitman said when he joined the Shepherding the Flock panel at the 2019 Caring Well Conference, “Jesus had some very strong language for those who did not care for the smallest and the least of these. He said it would be better to tie a millstone around your neck and to throw it in the sea than to be a stumbling block to one of these little children. . . . We can’t afford not to do this in the day and age we are living in.”
What is the purpose of the Hiring Guide?
Churches want to hire well and want to protect the vulnerable in their midst. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in partnership with the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group, has created the Caring Well Hiring Guide to provide a resource for churches to protect and care for their congregations well as they hire staff and select volunteers.
What are the practices in hiring or selecting volunteers that will help you see red flags and screen out those who should not be working with children? The Hiring Guide walks church leaders step by step through creating a screening framework. Whether you’re a small church who is considering the hiring process for staff and volunteers for the first time or if you are reviewing existing policies, this guide will walk you through practical steps to hire well.
Who is the Hiring Guide intended for?
This guide will help anyone responsible for hiring staff or selecting volunteers at a church or ministry. It could be especially helpful to executive pastors, children and student ministers, human resources directors, or volunteer coordinators. But it can be widely distributed to those beyond those positions. Those on the team not directly responsible for hiring could benefit from reading this resource, since the principles in this guide will help your full staff to create an environment that is safe for survivors and safe from abuse. Sharing the guide with your team will be one more way to reinforce how seriously your church takes protecting the vulnerable. Sharing this resource also allows for more individuals in the church to be aware of red flags or grooming practices and to speak up when they see something concerning.
What does it cover?
This resource covers everything from recruitment to the training of staff and volunteers. It includes sections on the following topics:
- Written applications
- Background checks
- Reference checks
- Internet checks
- Orientation and training
It answers questions such as such as:
- What is helpful to include on written applications?
- Are all background checks created equal?
- Who should provide references?
- What are red flags to watch for when interviewing a candidate?
As churches seek to be a refuge to the most vulnerable, this free new resource will help them evaluate their current processes to ensure that they are doing everything they can to screen staff and volunteers to protect those in their care. As Samantha Kilpatrick, a former prosecutor and attorney explains, “While the church has no control over the evil intent of the perpetrator, the church does have control over its ministry areas, how they operate, and who is eligible to serve in those ministries. The church must do everything in her power to lower the risk of sexual abuse and assault . . .”
To learn more about screening staff and volunteers, click here to receive your free Hiring Guide today.