Every church needs a written child abuse policy. This isn’t just a good idea. It’s vital to protect your students, your workers, and your church. Here’s some things you’ll need to include.
Screening For Workers: Every worker in your church needs to be interviewed and asked hard questions. They also need to have a background check. Every worker – even Aunt Emma who has been at your church since she was a baby. There’s a reason for that. If your church is ever sued because a worker abuses a child, they’ll ask if all workers have been screened and had a background check. If they have, the suit probably won’t hold up in court.
Report Every Sign of Abuse: Stress this to your workers. It doesn’t matter if they think the child might be accusing someone to get attention or if they think they may be overreacting. That’s not the worker’s call. Child abuse agencies investigate every case and if there’s nothing to it, they don’t mind being put to the trouble. That’s what they’re there for.
Have a policy about how to report possible abuse. That means you either have the worker make the call and report to you what happened or you have the worker come to you and you make the call. Which ever you decide to do, make sure somebody calls the proper agency.
A policy manual is something every church should have, but few follow through on this. Here are some good reasons to have a policy manual.
If you settle for any warm body to work in your children’s ministry, it will cause you more problems than lack of workers. Set the bar higher for those who will minister to the children in your church, and you’ll attract quality people. This goes against the grain, but it works. If you don’t believe me, try it for one year. Let the congregation know only those who meet the qualifications need apply. Mention that you’re doing this because you want only the best working with the children, and see what happens.
One qualification should be that only those who are fully devoted Christ followers can work in children’s ministry. No matter what, don’t compromise on this. Someone who is a carnal Christian or who plays games with Christianity is not someone you want your students looking up to as role models.
Other qualifications can include church membership, water baptism, devotional life, screening, and mandatory teacher training.
It’s so much easier to tell a parent whose bringing a child with a 103° fever into your class that you can’t accept the child if you have a written church policy in place. Parents can handle you saying you have to follow the church policy rather than you don’t want their child there.
Safety policies need to be in place. These include teacher/student ratios for each age group. If a teacher has too many student to handle, with a policy in place, she can alert an usher who knows what to do.
Another good policy that is needed is what to do with restroom breaks. No child should wander around the church hallways unsupervised. For nursery, you’ll want policies for how to change a diaper. Rubber gloves and a bleach spray bottle should be standard for every church nursery.
One of the most important policies to have in place is how we release children to adults. It used to be we could just let the children go when church was out. That’s no longer the case. With so many divorces and estranged parent, not to mention predators, we need to be careful how we do this.
Attracting parents is a great reason to have a policy manual. Parents want to know you’re taking care of their children properly. They’re more likely to attend a church they trust with their children.
You may think you don’t need those policies in place because you’re a small church. It’s easier to put policies in place and get church members use to them while your small. Then you’ll be ready for church growth.
If you don’t know where to start, Revival Fire For Kids has a complete Children’s Ministry Policy Manual available for download. This manual is available in MS Word and RTF formats so you can change it to fit your church’s needs. Click on the picture for more info.
The Bible teaches a lot about teaching children the foundational truths of God’s Word when they’re young.
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (NKJV) Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NKJV) “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Proverbs 2:6 (NKJV) Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Isaiah 28:10 (NKJV) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.
Here’s my list of foundational truths every child should learn before he or she enter kindergarten:
He is the Creator.
He takes care of us.
He is always with us.
We worship Him by singing, giving thanks and obeying Him.
Jesus is God’s Son.
Jesus grew up. He was a baby, a boy, a teenager, and then a man.