Supporting parents and grandparents who are concerned about safety

Your Question:

“How do I deal with parents or grandparents who are concerned about their children’s safety at our church?”

The Issues:

In today’s world, you can assume that ALL parents or grandparents are concerned about their child’s safety while at church. This concern demands that you do all you can to protect the children and clearly communicate those efforts in posters or other printed material. The safety of the children is a “fluid” effort. You will always discover new ways to protect the children. When you discover something that could or should be done, do it quickly and communicate with the parents or grandparents what you’ve done and why you did it.  You can never over communicate about children’s safety!

Scripture Foundation:

“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”  Matthew 18:7

Short Answer:

The It is a proven fact that most parents or grandparents are more concerned about their child’s safety than they are about the lesson they will learn at church. The safer they feel their children are, the longer they will stay connected to the church and the CM. If parents or grandparents sense that their child is not safe, whether that perception is correct or not, they will take their children elsewhere! The worst philosophy you can have as a CM leader is, “Nothing bad will happen here!” That philosophy can be based on the past (nothing bad has ever happened), or your faith in God (God won’t let anything bad from happening). Both of those foundational beliefs may be true, but you have to be careful to remember that “bad things” happen to believers all the time!  You also need to realize that today’s society no longer uses Biblical standards as a guide to behavior. There are more “bad” people doing “bad things” than ever before!  It is your job as the shepherd of the children to design policies and procedures that protect the children from every possible “bad thing” that may happen. This includes harm from within the CM (from CM team members) and harm from outside the CM (from “bad” people entering the CM area). Once you establish these protections, it is critically important to make those protections public! Advertise how you screen and train your CM team. Advertise the fact that no CM team member will ever be alone with children. Advertise how the CM team is supervised by you. Advertise how you prevent access to the children during the services. Advertise your emergency plans for every possible danger (fire, earthquake, tornado, flood, fire, terrorist, etc.).  Make sure the parents and grandparents know what to do if you have to shelter in place or move their children to safety. Keep the parents’ and grandparents’ contact information up to date and accurate. After you’ve done everything possible to protect their children, and you have clearly advertised those efforts through hallway posters, printed handouts, etc., be very open to listening to parents’ or grandparents’ questions, suggestions, or concerns.  If a parent or grandparent expresses a concern, do all you can to address the concern and then report your steps and efforts to the parent or grandparent who expressed it. Regarding the safety of the children, it is never possible to over-communicate! Silence or unfounded assumptions can lead to deeper concern and may ultimately lead to a family going to a different church! For more help, click on the links below.

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