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 Sex Offender Registries can be out of date or only contain certain classifications of sex offenders.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?