Anyone who is tasked with the safekeeping of church attendees and children is acutely aware of the increase in horrifying headlines relating to church crime. Churches are prime targets for crime because of their open nature, easy access and limited security measures. It doesn’t help that some church leaders are reluctant to broach the subject of church security. They worry that overt security measures threaten a peaceful atmosphere. They struggle with the gap between having faith and taking action. And they dread the possibility of an undesired and uncomfortable debate on the use of deadly force in the protection of church goers.
Gatekeepers Security Services do an excellent job of educating churches about the need for security training for physical intrusion with intent to harm. However, there are many threats far more likely than deadly force that don’t often make the headlines. They’re quieter but potentially easier to prevent with the right strategies in place – crimes like sexual abuse of children, kidnapping, and theft of property or private information. Sadly, it often takes a lawsuit to get churches to see the very real likelihood of these threats and take preventative measures.
For many of these threats, the powerful combination of technology plus ironclad processes delivers security to church-goers and children in these areas:
Most churches now recognize the need for background checks for staff and volunteers. However, many churches settle for free, publicly available background check options, and they run them for only one or two ministries. These searches are not robust enough. According to Steve Durie, CEO of SecureSearch, “9% of church volunteers and staff have a flagged profile and 4% have criminal histories that should prevent them from interacting with children.” SecureSearch reports that every 43 hours a convicted sex offender tries to attain a position at youth oriented non-profit, so it’s vitally important that churches make it more difficult for criminals to infiltrate areas of vulnerability.
Fellowship One automates the background check process, removing the barrier that it is too time-consuming or complicated to make this important protection routine.
Many security concerns can be alleviated with a robust, secure check-in system, but a good system alone is not enough. It should include well-designed name tags that prevent unauthorized pick-ups, and notify caregivers of allergies and other concerns. By far the most important aspect of a check-in system, however, is the quality of—and adherence to—surrounding policies and processes. The best check-in system in the world won’t help if child pick-up with matching tags isn’t enforced, or if caregivers don’t review authorized parent pick-up in the system when a tag is lost. The rise of parental custody issues mandates that churches take great care in this area.
Online Registration and Giving
Besides being the most convenient way to manage funds, online giving and event payment reduces cash and check-handling and the potential for theft among those charged with processing the offering. Digital giving also provides a record of incoming funds that can provide a more secure internal control against electronic theft. Finally, payment processors—by law—have met stringent compliance standards to protect your data. While not foolproof, this is far more secure than the data that can be lifted off members’ checks.
Not Technology Alone
Hopefully, the common denominator of “ironclad processes” stood out in each of these three scenarios. Technology alone is not a cure for crime—in fact, it can have its own potential vulnerabilities for criminal intent. However, with intentionality and education, the right technology can minimize the risk of harm to churches.
ACTIVE Network Fellowship One provides the premier church management software solution to more than 4,000 churches. Our church software tools and church leadership experience enable ministry leaders to offer exceptional member care, be good stewards of time and finances, and engage their community.