keeping kids safe while at church with jim wideman
In today’s episode, TK and Stacia are joined by Jim Wideman to talk about keeping kids safe while at church. Jim is the president and founder of Jim Wideman Ministries and also a team member at NextGen Staff Solutions. Jim Wideman is considered an innovator, a pioneer and one of the fathers of the modern family ministry movement. He is a speaker, teacher, and author of 14 books. He has over 40 years of experience in the local church, building great teams and helping pastors.
In this episode, we talk about the nitty gritty of background checks, Interpol, the best tools for finding out if a potential volunteer has past criminal activity and much more. Don’t miss the surprise moment when we find out that Jim played a character on the 90’s show “Gospel Bill” from Church on the Move. This episode is sure to teach and entertain, so grab a pen and follow the checklists to make sure your church is keeping kids safe.
We are also giving away a copy of “Tweetable Leadership” written by Jim. That book will be available to win on our social media outlets. So, check out everything.church on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to repost or tag someone to win the copy.
long story short
Jim has so many fantastic ideas for attracting families and keeping kid’s safe. Our conversation gave way to just a few of his ideas from his years of experience.
keeping kids safe while at church
1. Secret Shoppers: You suggest getting a team of secret shoppers, which is a splendid idea that someone could use for any area of ministry, but what exactly does that look like?
Jim shares get some fresh eyes to help you. “You have to know where you actually are, so you can know where you want to be. You can’t get to where you’re going if you don’t know where you really are.”
He shares that every ministry leader should make a list of things to improve and then just work down the list little by little as you can, but always be improving your environment.
Have your secret shoppers identify
- Are we friendly?
- Are we safe?
- How long does are check-in process take?
- How does our environment look?
Ask people you know who don’t want to serve each weekend, but who still want to help if they will walk through your ministry area about 5 or 6 times a year.
Jim shares, it’s a “small church” mentality that stops us from believing that every church should be looking for ways to improve. However, he shares, “if you do when you’re small what you’ll be forced to do when you grow larger, you will grow larger.”
Jim shares if your church nursery isn’t as nice as your guest’s nursery, they will wonder if this is the right church for them.
Your nursery and kid’s environment should be:
2. Entrances and exits: let’s talk about those, sometimes you’ve only got what you got, how do you still make them safe?
Jim shares if you start acting like the safety of children really matters, it will change the way people looking at their environment. Look for natural ways that you can control who has access to the children.
- Use stantions
- Close Doors
- Put Signs on Doors as Needed
- Direction you use your hallway
- Tag Checks
- Two people at every door (because people get distracted)
- Half Doors
You need to know the laws in the state in which you live in, for custody issues.
- Ask your liability insurance and they can ask their lawyer.
- Have a procedure for custody issues
- Have an alternate pickup list
3. Is there one event or story that sticks out in your mind that you just have to share related to security?
Jim shares that everyone in children’s ministry (if they are honest), will admit that they have lost a child. But his biggest stories about child safety are still in regards to background checks.
He shares one story where a grandfather who typically dropped his kids off at youth group, came inside. Instead of dropping them off, he said he wanted to sit in and watch. But Jim’s church had a visitor policy and the policy was you have to show your ID, and they will immediately search for them first with the Offender Locator app. So, they followed their policy, and this guy came up as a registered sex offender.
Jim says it is our due diligence to take these steps to make sure we are keeping kids safe. He says, find someone that you know has a record and then run a background check on them and see what comes up. This will give you a good gauge of how good your company is at running background checks.
4. What other tenants of overall church security have we not mentioned yet?
- When you’re looking at the screening process, redo it every two to three years.
- Check people’s references
- Never let your need for workers, compromise your standards
- Considering having a probation or test-drive period for new volunteers
- Never let an adult visitor act like a volunteer
- Have a plan for partnering with parents
In this episode we also mentioned:
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