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Risk Management Minute

Valuable Information to Help You Protect Your Ministry

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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Background Checks

"Give Instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wise: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning."  Proverbs 9:9

There is no document that will guarantee that a church will never be sued, or, if sued, will never be held liable for injuries. However, liability release forms can be a great value in proving parts of a case.

To understand liability waivers, it is important to have an understanding of some of the legal terms. One important term is “negligence.” Negligence as defined by law is a failure to exercise reasonable care.

 

 

What is the Risk?

A Colorado court recently held that a “waiver and release document which purported to release the church from responsibility for any liability that might result from participation in an off-site church event attend by patrons, did not release the church from liability for injuries suffered by a minor patron when she collided with a rock on frozen lake while being towed on an inner tube by an all-terrain vehicle, because the agreement did not contain any information describing the event activities or associated risks.” The court concluded that since the parent had not been properly informed in writing about the dangers associated with the activity the release was ineffective.

The example given above shows that the church was found negligent; they failed to exercise reasonable care in the planning of this event. You must not do less than your due diligence when it comes to the preservation and protection of your ministry.

 

 

What Can Be Done?

There are several steps to be taken when incorporating a release form into your ministry.  As we saw in the Colorado case, having a release form that does not state the event specifics will not be effective in protecting your ministry. Some vital elements that should be included in any release form are as follows:

  • Description of activity.
  • Date and location of activity.
  • Proper indemnification and hold harmless language that releases the ministry from all liability.  
  • A consent to medical, dental or hospital care. 

 

It is important to protect your ministry by making prudent decisions regarding your liability release forms. A simple form can make the difference in your ministry continuing to operate. Log In and head on over to our Risk Management Document section and download your release forms today!

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Imagine your worst case scenario. You receive a call that there have been allegations against one of your volunteers involving a young girl in the second grade class. What are you feeling?

Horror?

Fear?

Anger?

Guilt?  

Performing Church Background checks has become as essential as unlocking the doors in the day-to-day operations of the church. The news is filled with stories and it seems these days that rather than being a place of safety, the church represents an environment of opportunity for those with intent to harm the unsuspecting, weak and defenseless. 

In our litigious society, churches need to exercise reasonable care as they carry out their various ministries. Conducting background checks is one of those areas that the courts have determined as one of the basics of “reasonable care.” Every 43 hours at least one convicted sex offender tries to attain a position at a youth-oriented non-profit organization. Yet, only 57% of pastors conduct a church background check, or have background check programs of any kind. The following is an example of how conducting background checks helped prevent a catastrophic outcome.  

There was one individual who contacted several of the pastors at a church, developing relationships with them and dropping hints that he’d like to be involved with their junior high ministry. By the time he had befriended several of the pastors, there was a presumed outcome of his acceptability to volunteer in that ministry. Thankfully, they had a risk manager who ensured their standard procedures were followed. Completion of the criminal background check showed this man to be a registered sex offender who was seeking access to their junior high girls.

 

It matters not how well you think you know someone, setting the policy in place and adhering to the policy in every case without exception, is essential to a healthy operation. As part of our risk management services we have created background check forms to assist you in this process. These are included in your manual as well as available on our website, along with tutorial training videos to help you conduct a background check meeting with all staff and volunteers regarding this process. Feel free to contact us for assistance and we will gladly help you in protecting your ministry. 

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