When beginning a new cm leadership position – how to evaluate or establish cm safety policies
“I am directing a CM that hasn’t had a CM director before me. How do I evaluate or establish CM policies to protect the children?”
Establishing policies that govern and protect the ministry is a critical first step at any stage of the CM development. If you are now leading an existing CM that has never had established safety or personnel policies or procedures, the current volunteers may be used to doing “whatever they feel is right,” and who may resist any “confining” policies or procedures. You cannot be too afraid of “offending” current CM volunteers when faced with protecting the children, the CM team and the church.
“That same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus…And as they talked and deliberated, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them…And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself…They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us as He spoke with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” Luke 24: 13-32
When asked to lead a CM that has never had established safety policies or procedures, make sure to keep the senior pastor or your direct supervisor informed as you begin the process of establishing protective policies and procedures. Make sure that your supervisor or senior pastor understands the risks to the children, the CM team, the church, and to the leadership themselves of not having formal safety policies and procedures.
Ask God to help the church leaders understand what you know before beginning to create new policies. Before you create new policies, share your observations of the current ministry with your ministry supervisor or senior pastor. Let them know what you have observed and the related risks. Inform the church leaders that you will begin creating a CM policy manual that will include safety policies and procedures that include screening new (and current) CM team members, ministry interactions, approved touching standards, discipline guidelines, communications with parents, the use of media not included in the curriculum, and many other processes.
During this process of evaluating the policies currently in place, or creating new ones, always ask, “What is best for the children?” This question may help you create a safe environment for both the children and the CM team members. Consult other churches regarding their safety policies. Download a sample CM policy manual and customize it to suit your particular church or ministry. You can also download the sample CM forms that are mentioned in the sample policy manual. When you have a “rough draft” of your CM policy manual, ask the senior pastor, the church attorney, and the church insurance agent to review it. These are the three people who should have personal connections to the process. The senior pastor will have to deal with those who complain about the policies, or lack thereof. The church insurance agent will have to pay for lawsuits against the church or ministry. The church attorney will have to defend the church if any lawsuits are filed. Listen to these three people as they suggest edits of the policies and procedures.
If the senior pastor doesn’t want to involve the insurance agent or attorney in this review process, remind him that he is ultimately responsible for all that happens in the CM, and that he could be financially charged during a lawsuit. Knowing this fact should encourage him to let you consult with those two people. If you face strong resistance from the senior pastor in establishing safety policies and procedures, you may not want to serve under this leadership! For more help, click the links below.
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