Five years ago the question might have been “should churches do background checks”? Today we know the answer is a resounding yes. We understand that our sanctuaries are filled with hurting and broken people who are in need of grace and redemption and our ministries are not immune to the ills of society. Therefore churches are unique in that they have to balance redemption and transformation with safety and security. So the big question is how to conduct quality criminal background checks. This is a challenge because the background screening industry is a lot like the Old Wild West with few regulations or standards governing how background screening should be conducted.
These lack of standards have given rise to very low quality background screening products that are extremely enticing to churches because they are instant and cheap. Instant and cheap is great at Starbucks but it is a recipe for disaster in background screening.
The first question we should ask ourselves is why do we want to do background checks? If our main concern is liability then the $10 National Criminal Database Searches will be appealing. If we are concerned with protecting our ministry, our children and our members then we need to continue reading.
The so called $10 national criminal background checks marketed to churches are a waste of money and time. These searches provide a dangerous false sense of security. All criminal databases in the U.S., including the FBI NCIC database, are incomplete. They are never a viable option as a stand-alone screening program. I could spend the next month providing case studies of serious felons, including sex offenders, that do not show up in these database searches. Criminal record databases are tools not a background screening program.
Best practices in background checks for churches will require a social security verification to determine identity, other names and counties of current and past residence. At a minimum, the package should also contain a national criminal database search, national sex offender search and a county criminal search. Federal criminal record searches are becoming a critical and inexpensive search to add to packages with the proliferation of child seduction internet crimes.
So now you are wondering how this best practices background check impacts our $10. The great news is a best practice background check for churches can start as low as $16.95. That’s right for $6.95 more you can provide true ministry protection.
The first step is to select a trusted and transparent background screening firm. Click here to download our whitepaper 10 Things to Know Before You Hire a Background Screening Firm.
Have you had any problems with background checks on church volunteers? Please let us know below.