By Greg Addison
As a child, my dad would tell me often “Son, what you don’t know will hurt you.” That has proven to be true in both life and ministry. It is especially true when it comes to keeping children and students safe in today’s world. There has never been a time with more risk in ministry or a time when churches have been so far behind in their preparation. That is why the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) has begun working with MinistrySafe, an organization that provides the best training and information to churches for protecting their children and student ministries.
Richard Hammar of the Church Law and Tax Report recently published a survey of the types of lawsuits filed against churches during 2010 -2014. While there were varying types of legal cases, the number one reason every year was related to the molestation of a child. Since joining the ABSC staff in July 2014, we have received a notice from an ABSC church every week of a potential issue. Invariably, pastors tell me they had no idea the dangers to children are so great.
“Son, what you don’t know will hurt you.” Those words often ring true as I work with churches. One piece of misinformation that I hear is, “Greg, we do background checks so we are protected.” Background checks are important and identify someone who has been convicted of a crime involving a minor. Most leaders do not know that 90 percent of child molesters never enter the system. Moreover, most child predators are not caught until they have abused as many as 40 children. So, your background check will only protect you from 10 percent of child predators after they have abused lots of children.
MinistrySafe training takes your church beyond background checks and provides the training you need to understand the real risks to the children in your ministry and how to protect them. They recommend a five-part system of protection policies and training. They provide training resources for your leaders and teachers so your church can share Jesus with children and not put them at risk while doing so. The ABSC is grateful for our partnership with MinistrySafe. They provide the best training for churches and leaders we have found. These resources can be implemented at any size and type of ABSC church. You will find information and articles on our website connecting you to MinistrySafe and to additional information from our staff that will educate and equip your church. Our ABSC staff is trained to help your church as well.
What you do know can save your church and children from a tragic situation. Please let us help your church. Knowledge and preparation will keep your ministry safe while sharing Jesus with boys, girls and students who need to know Him.
This article originally appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News.