OK. So I got your attention. That’s a good thing. Because when you begin to talk about inviting volunteers to complete Criminal Background Checks and Servant-Leadership Applications the backlash begins.
Criminal Background checks are required by Scouts, School Systems, and Ball Teams and no one thinks twice. But to ask a church volunteer, the fear of “offense” can sometimes be overwhelming. And anyone over the age of 60, who already lives with the fear of identity theft (my mother in law won’t even mail her bills from her own home mailbox), the reluctance to provide a social security number is asking too much. But it is a fact of life and absolutely necessary to due diligently screen those who will have direct influence over little and vulnerable people.
There are companies now whose sole purpose is to provide Criminal Background Checks, maintain the records, and notify you when updates are necessary that will also offer Safe Sanctuary online training (Trac1) for a much more reasonable fee (less than $15) than several years ago. It’s an investment that should NOT be considered as part of the Kid Min budget, but more along the lines of security or office supplies.
But Criminal Background checks alone are not enough.
Servant-Leaders Applications go hand-in-hand in providing due diligent screening. But here’s the good part: These applications (kept confidential by the ministry lead/head) offer the greatest insight in placing folks in their “sweet spot.”
As a new staff member required to recruit and train volunteer servants, I can not know one’s gifts and graces by offering a handshake and a polite conversation in the parking lot or worship service in a few minutes on a Sunday morning. These applications are fabulous for finding out if volunteers can serve seasonally (VBS/got band in the fall) or are better to serve for special events (Christimas play) or are available during the school year (they travel during the week with their work.) This also lets you know where they’ve been “a-learning” their Jesus information, what spiritual disciplines they practice (and have no clue what you’re talking about as in, “Tithe? What is that?”)
And my favorite part, the personal non-kin references, give a ministry leader the chance to hear others toot the horn of a fantastic youth or adult. They will tell me stories about how you live out your faith in areas that a servant is usually too humble to share or don’t even recognize in themselves.
Criminal Background checks AND Servant Leader Applications . . .now that’s due diligence and a treat.