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Risk Management Minute

Valuable Information to Help You Protect Your Ministry

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It seems these days you can’t turn on the news or walk around a park without being surrounded by a new game called Pokemon Go. Some of you may even be avid players of the game while others are left scratching your heads wondering what on earth a pokemon gym is. Don’t worry, you are a not alone.

Pokemon Go is a game people play on their phones or other electronic devices. Its main goal is to encourage people to move, walk, explore etc. As you move around town you come across various pokemon creatures that you capture using your device’s camera. These pokestops can be found in parks, municipal buildings and churches. 

So what does this mean for your ministry?

Depending on the proximity of your ministry to town you may have noticed random people wondering around your parking lot staring at their phones then doing a victory dance. In this case, you are most likely a pokestop. If your location is more rural you probably are not listed.

Now, is this a good or a bad thing?

The answer to this question is twofold and depends on your ministry.

1. If your ministry runs a school / daycare or you are hosting a children’s program like VBS you probably don’t want to encourage strangers trespassing around your building.

2. If your ministry does not host the above programs you could view this as a potential outreach opportunity.  Many churches are taking advantage of the new foot traffic and posting signs encouraging pokemon go users. 

“We are so much more than just a pokestop! Gotta Catch ‘Em All! Matthew 28:19.”
“Instead of chasing Pokemon, Chase Jesus.”
“We’re Not a Poke’Stop, Sorry. But we are a Jesus Stop.”
“Worship 10 AM. Welcome Pokemon Go Trainers.”
“We are a pokestop. Get Supplies outside, find Jesus inside.”
“Looking for Pokemon or Jesus? Both found here.”
“Come for Pokemon, stay for Church.”

So how do you proceed based on what is best for your ministry?

1. Determine what objects from the game are located on the church property before entering the property. Anyone who has downloaded the game can determine this. Depending on the distance the player does not always need to be on your property to play the game.

2. If your ministry determines this is not something you want to support you can post signage like the image below. You can download it by clicking on the PDF button. You can also contact Niantic Labs here in order to remove your location as a pokestop.

                                                         b2ap3_thumbnail_Pokemon-PDF.jpg
                                                                                     Pokemon-PDF.pdf

While pokemon go players can bring concern they can also bring new outreach opportunities. It is important to discuss with your board what you believe is best for your ministry. As always, if you have questions or concerns feel free to contact us! 





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Imagine ten teenagers at your house playing croquet. Now they decide your garage roof is the optimum putting green. You, being a youth pastor, think this is an excellent idea despite your wife’s protests. Welcome to my life as a teenager. I know I’ve talked about it before, but my youth group growing up did some pretty crazy things. I have to laugh at God’s planning of me working with ministries educating them on risk management when my child hood consisted of breaking all the rules I would advise today!

The nature of churches is to create and host events that bring the community in. While these showstopper ideas may draw a crowd, you need to think about the potential impact they could have on your ministry. If you build it they will come. While that saying is true, creating a motorcycle ramp to perform a jump over six cars is not the ideal event your ministry should be considering.  

Yes, you have church insurance. However, your insurance was designed to cover standard church related events. Target practice in the parking lot on Wednesday nights does not fall under standard church activities. These types of events may require a special insurance policy which would be an additional premium. Learn more about these coverages here: Evaluating Events

Most importantly it is important to consider the impact these events could have on your ministry should you have a claim. Let’s say you decided to host an archery camp. While the kids are practicing loading their arrows, a child accidentally misfires and severely injures another child. If you haven't already set up a special events policy or received approval from your current carrier for this activity your ministry is not protected. Now think about the thousands of dollars in medical bills, and the inevitable law suit that follows from the injured child's family. Does your ministry have the financial means to survive this accident? Even if you do, was hosting an archery camp worth it? 

If you are thinking about hosting any sort of event please give us a call. It is important to make sure that coverage is in place before accidents happen. 

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It’s a snowy Saturday. You, being the youth pastor, decide it’s a great day to hit the powder. You call up a couple of your teenagers and invite them along to Brother John’s house, who had extended the invite to use his snowmobiles anytime. You are having a great day until you run the snowmobile into a rock tearing up the engine and doing several thousand dollars of damage. Now what? Is there coverage?


Let’s talk about two scenarios. First off, let’s say this was a sanctioned church activity. Would there be coverage? Most church policies are written under “Special” form. Special form means that if a named peril isn’t listed as excluded, then it is covered. Since snowmobiles aren’t listed there would be coverage. However, here is a caveat to this. Just because something is not listed as excluded does not mean that the insurance carrier would approve of said activity. Juggling fire isn’t listed, but the standard church policy was not written to generally cover whatever you can dream up. Although they would pay the claim, chances are they would issue a non renewal and then you struggle finding insurance with this type of claim on your loss record.

Second scenario. This isn’t a church activity. The youth pastor decided on his own to call up a few kids and head over to a friend’s house on the weekend. No announcements were made at church, no permissions slips gathered, and no notification given to the insurance company to advise if this was an activity they would approve of.  Simply put, this was not a church activity. Therefore the church insurance does not apply and would not provide coverage. The owner of the snowmobile would need to file the claim on his own insurance. The same as if Brother John’s cousins came over and wrecked the snowmobile. Their employers would not be responsible.

The main thing to take away from this is to consider what events your ministry is promoting. Make sure you gather the proper release forms and if you’re not sure if it falls under the scope of your policy give us a call! That is what we are here for!  No event is worth risking your ministry. I’ve also included some links to some previous blogs going more in depth on the subject.
Evaluating Events 
Handing Over the Keys Can Be The Same As Handing Over Your Insurance

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With the warm weather approaching that means summer activities. The first thing that springs to mind in particular is youth activities. My youth group growing up was notorious for constantly creating new and dangerous games. No rules wiffle ball, which included physically running with bases, tackling people and at one point using the ball to tag someone out. I told you, we were dangerous! Hopefully your summer plans are much safer but how do you plan on communicating them to your youth group members?

Text?
Email?
Facebook?
Snapchat?
Instagram?
Twitter?

Have I lost you with all these words? Technology has become such a prevalent and easy way of communicating and is primarily your main source of contact with teenagers. However, if safe guards are not in place the church could be liable for inappropriate communication. This is why we recommend adopting a Communication Policy. This will outline what your ministry deems appropriate methods of communication along with a consent form that allows the parents to decide how they would like you to contact their child.

Sarah’s parents have signed off that texting is an approved form of communication for their teenager. The church bus is running late and you need to change the drop off time of an event from 6:00pm to 6:30pm. You can easily text Sarah the update, but it should be a group text that includes Sarah’s mother as well.


Pastor Tom, the youth director has a facebook page and gets lots of friend requests from his youth group. However, he does not accept them on his personal page because he does not represent the church ministry on his private accounts and therefore does not interact with the minors. Instead, he creates a Church facebook account or a youth group page and invites the teens to follow that account. He has assigned multiple youth leaders to be administrators on that account so that all communication is transparent and monitored by multiple parties.

As with all things documentation is important. You need evidence of adopting this Communications policy in your meeting minutes, a sign in sheet showing all youth workers have received this policy and the signed consent form from each parent.

While you cannot prevent bad situations from occurring, you can remove the liability from the church in showing you were not negligent in addressing this communication issues.

Clients: To download the Communications Policy & Consent form please visit our library. Simple log-in on the home screen. If you do not have an account, click the register button. From there select the Ministry Risk Management Tab at the top of the page and select Risk Management Documents. Scroll down to the Risk Transfer section and once selected each document will automatically download.


 How to Correct Your Church Communication before Tragedy Strikes

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First Insurance Group is excited to announce that we will be hosting a FREE seminar, The Missing Link in Ministries,  Friday, January 15th, 2016. 

It has been our goal for awhile to create such an event for Churches to attend and not only learn about the issues ministries are facing, but how to efficiently implement systems to eliminate problems and protect themselves. Hope's Point Baptist Church has graciously offered to host this event and we couldn't be happier to offer it to you. 

Why are we telling you about this now? If you're like me, you know an event is coming up and you were planning on registering for it at some point, but then the phone rang and someone asked you to do something and then you needed to stop and pick up groceries and weeks go by without you registering. In order to prevent you missing out an this important event, I am telling you now! Registration is free but spaces are limited so register today and add it to your calendar. We will send you reminders as the event draws closer. 

What Attendees Can Expect: 

9:00AM Free Breakfast (This already makes it worth attending) 

10:00AM Kurt Williams 

10:30AM Mike Gleason, First Insurance Group 


The Seminar is located at: Hope's Point Baptist Church - 1703 S. Miller Avenue, Shelbyville, IN 46176 

We understand that our clients are spread out over many states and you cannot all attend due to location. However, if you know of a church in the area you think should attend please extend an invitation. We are planning on hosting several of these in the future and if you would like to see an event like this closer to you, or you are interested in hosting a seminar please let me know. 

 

Click Here to Register 

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