Navigating the highly unregulated volunteer background screening industry is extremely challenging for churches and ministries. The screening industry has been less than transparent about the use of cheap criminal databases that have a high failure rate even for sex offenders. The following Background Checks for Churches Webinar hosted by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance provides insight on background screening and a perspective on the legal aspects of background screening by BMI attorney Kay Landwehr.
Over the past few weeks I feel like I have been playing a game of Pete and Repeat. Remember that fun game from the playground? You know, Pete and Repeat are sitting on a fence and Pete fell off. Who was left? Repeat...
Ok. Pete and Repeat are sitting on a fence and Pete fell off. Who was left? Repeat...
Now you remember.
Well, that is what I have felt like recently as I have spoken with hundreds of churches and ministries about the importance of background checks for churches. So I decided to create a little Brainshark explaing why churches should screen their volunteers.
Let me say that I have a huge heart for churches and ministries who are trying to navigate the highly unregulated background screening industry. I speak with or correspond by email with a handful of church administrators each day who are trying to implement quality background checks for churches. The lack of transparency from the background screening industry is frustrating for me and I know it is frustrating for you. Protecting children and looking after widows and orphans is a Biblical command. Yet it is difficult to implement because the screening industry is focused on cheap, instant products that yield tremendous profit but provide very little risk mitigation.
I think you will find this 5 minute training video valuable. Enjoy!
If you are committed to the safety and security of your children, the church and protecting your ministry then Contact us today. We have partnered with thousands of churches and ministries and assisted them in developing a quality background checks for churches program.
Ok, I had to ask. I’m really not trying to make you feel guilty if you are still studying for the final exam. And let’s be honest, we have all flunked a test or two and learned from our mistakes and become better for it.
Seriously, I just want you to understand how cheap background checks for churches are wrapped up in pretty packaging. I hesitate to use the word deceptive but I think it is fair to say misleading.
Misleading is no big deal if we are talking Coke versus Pepsi. However, the safety and security of your church is an entirely different matter.
We also need to understand that cheap background checks are the norm in the church market.
If an employee at Walmart harms a child while at work, it will be a big news splash. But it will not impact Walmart’s brand image much.
But churches are not Walmart. We are talking about the safety and security of children, members, visitors, finances and the ministry.
One harmed child will impact that child for their rest of their life. It might destroy their faith. And it could destroy your ministry especially if it could have been prevented.
My advice to prospective clients who are shopping by price is to have them ask themselves how they would feel sitting across from a mother and father and telling them that their child was harmed. And it could have been prevented but the budget was tight and you were trying to save $8-$10.
Is it worth the savings? No way. Kids are precious and need to be protected.
The problem is we have all been victims of great marketing. Prior to starting Safe Hiring Solutions, I assumed a criminal background check would consist of an instant database search. Wow, did I have a lot to learn and I was a detective.
So we are here to give you more guidance. Most days I feel like I am swimming upstream with one arm as I tackle a giant volunteer screening marketing program based on profit not safety and security.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).” So let’s look at the truth in background screening.
Background checks for churches cannot be done for $10. Sorry.
Pastor Rick Warren, author of Purpose Driven Life, requires all volunteers at Saddleback Church, including his wife, to submit to a comprehensive fingerprint background check.
A quality criminal background check for churches should include:
- Social Security Verification
- National Criminal Database Search
- National Sex Offender Search
- County Criminal Search
The screening package must:
- Not be limited to 7 years.
- Include alias and other names
Contact Safe Hiring Solutions today to complete your graduation to comprehensive criminal background checks.
Did you know that quality background checks could not be done for $10?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation and wonder how Jesus would respond? Well, I found myself there late yesterday afternoon after a lengthy discussion with a church about the pitfalls of the “one click” background checks for churches. Hear me out, I understand our economic climate over the past few years and how that impacts giving. I have served in leadership positions within the church, so I hear you. I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsay and graduated from Financial Peace University years go so I am a huge promoter of fiscal responsibility.
However, we also have to be careful shopping for the cheapest background checks. Yes, we might save a few dollars but at what expense?
If your current background screening partner is providing a $9 or $10 instant background check for churches and promotes this as national background check, they are not shooting straight with you. Their justification is your state provides good data to the national criminal database you are using. However that is irrelevant if the applicant has lived in other states, vacationed in other states, or traveled to other states on business. Doesn’t that apply to almost everybody?
Believe me when I say it would be easy to give in and sell these cheap searches. I could attract a lot more clients and increase profits, but I would not be able to sleep at night.
So I started thinking about how the Bible guides us and how Jesus would respond to this?
- Steal, Kill & Destroy. Jesus warns us about the enemy in John 10: 10-11: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” I think this passage warns us we have an extremely cunning and determined enemy. Anybody disagree? He wants nothing more than to see a child hurt or harmed because this will destroy the child and the ministry of the church.
- Death on the Cross. Jesus did not come and die a horrible death on the cross because he believed in taking the path of least resistance. No, Jesus was clear that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children (Matthew 19:14). So I think He would advise us to do everything we can to protect our children, that we have a moral and social responsibility (1 Timothy 5:8).
- Protecting Children. Jesus is clear throughout the Gospels that it would be “better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” I think this is a directive to do all that we can to protect our children and prevent them from stumbling. We know from research that the impact of child physical and sexual abuse can have a life-long impact on a child and certainly impacts their faith.
The bottom line is the safety and security of children, members and the ministry must be given a higher priority. And the reality is this can be done without costing the church significantly more than the “one-click” background checks.
Are you ready to start doing background screening correctly? Contact us today.
The cost of not doing background checks for churches can cost millions, destroy lives and derail the ministry. The enemy is slick, sophisticated and finds tremendous satisfaction when he can gain entry into a ministry that is not doing everything they can to keep him out. Two recent cases involving pastors reveal how critically important background checks for churches has become. An OK pastor was arrested last week and charged with 70 counts of child molestation involving three children ages 6 to 12. Just a few days prior a youth pastor in Indiana was arrested for two counts of child molestation.
The frequency of incidents involving ministry staff and volunteers preying on our children is extremely alarming. We as a community of faith need to take a moral stand and commit ourselves to the protection of our children, members and ministry.
The sad truth is we are up against a very sophisticated enemy and we cannot compete with the enemy if we are using cheap background checks. These $9 and $10 searches do very little to reduce our risk exposure and are a waste of money.
Yes, talented sales reps and some attorneys will disagree with me and say something is better than nothing. Keep in mind this is a legal perspective not a morally responsible position. These cheap background checks will not keep sexual predators out of your church.
So what is the cost of background checks for churches? A quality background check will be around $17-$22 depending on volume and at a minimum include the following:
- Social Security Verification: Who are they? Have they been known by any other names? Where have they lived?
- National Criminal Database Search: This should never be used as the stand-alone screening program. It is a great tool but not a screening program.
- National Sex Offender Search: This is not a stand-alone screening program. Sex Offender Registries can be out of date or only contain certain classifications of sex offenders.
- County Criminal Record Search: Should search the county of current residence at a minimum and best practice would include past counties of residence for a 10 year period.
It is also important to understand what is included in the background screening package and how the background screening firm will conduct their research. A reputable background screening firm will not limit their searches to 7 years, rely only on databases and will include alias names.
Benjamin Franklin’s adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is prophetic. The cost of background checks for churches is miniscule compared to the cost of not doing them.
Download our 10 Things to Know Before Hiring a Background Screening Firm to help you make an informed partnership decision.
Are you confident in your current background screening program?
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.