Safe church policies help protect the most vulnerable among us, especially our children from the devastating effects of abuse. Policies also protect churches, church staff, and volunteers from possible false allegations of abuse. Everyone is safer when policies are in place and are carefully followed. We recommend that each church post its policy on the church website. It sends a strong message that in this church the value of each person will be honored and protected.
Careful screening of ministry leaders is an important part of maintaining a safe environment that nurtures faith. One aspect of that screening process is a criminal background check, which is especially important for those who work with children and vulnerable populations. This one small step will require some time, effort, and financial investment. However, if you've ever dealt with the horrific impacts of abuse, you will understand that these efforts are well worth it.
Help with Background Checks: Did you know that there are companies that can help congregations with background checks? They can also help with record-keeping and offer additional services to prevent abuse and create safer environments for everyone.
Learning the Limits of Background Screening: This article points out that background screening is not a "be all and end all", but only one part of an adequate screening process.
Preventing Child Abuse: Provides guidelines for churches and nonprofits to create policies and procedures for abuse prevention. Available for purchase from Faith Alive, or view in the CRC Digital Library.
Let the Children Come: Provides helpful advice for how churches can create a safer environment for children. Available for purchase from Amazon.
Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy. Available for purchase through Church Law and Tax Store.
Preventing Sexual Misconduct in Youth Ministry. Available for purchase from Church Law and Tax Store, helps churches prepare policies to prevent sexual abuse in the youth ministry context.
Church Mutual Safety Resources: Church Mutual Insurance Company offers a range of resources available for purchase for creating safe church policies.
Brotherhood Mutual also offers free or low-cost safety and risk management publications for Christian ministries.
Dove’s Nest: An organization dedicated to equipping faith communities to keep children and youth safe, with many helpful resources.
Any church policy listed here is a sample only and is not endorsed by Safe Church Ministry. In addition, this sample may not reflect the church's most current policy. Each church must develop policies that fit its own unique context. Policies should always be reviewed by a legal professional.
Why Safe Church Policy? and Basic Elements of a Policy
Responding to a Child Who Discloses and Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Where’s the Boundary? A Helpful 10-pt. test
Suggested Guidelines for Ministerial Relationships
Suggested Guidelines for Handling Objectionable Behavior Directed Toward a Pastor, which may include harassment, stalking, and other inappropriate behavior
Resources from Synod
CRC Child Safety Survey and Results (March 10, 2010): A survey evaluating CRC churches’ abuse prevention and response policies.
Approved Guidelines for Handling Abuse Allegations Against a Church Leader
Abuse Victims Task Force Report – Synod 2010