CSBC, LifeWay, BackgroundChecks.com help churches play it safe

Published Nov 01, 2011

Does your church have worker screening policies and procedures? More and more California Southern Baptist Convention churches are implementing a plan that includes worker screening. However, many churches still have prepared nothing.

If your church needs to establish a plan, visit www.csbc.com/children. Once on the page, select the “Safety and security for childhood ministries” link in the right column; there are resources to help develop and implement worker screening, supervision and reporting procedures to reduce risks to minors, church leaders and churches concerning child abuse.

In addition, Tom Belew, CSBC small groups and childhood specialist, can help with training and consultation for pastors and church leaders responsible for developing a plan for their churches. Insurance companies are increasing requirements and churches need to do everything possible to reduce the risk of child abuse.

The goal of CSBC’s childhood ministry is to position churches to care for children, protect volunteer leaders and reach families by providing a safe and secure environment.

Part of an effective plan is securing a screening service. The following story highlights a screening service LifeWay Christian Resources has provided for churches. In recent years, many churches have found it an affordable and trusted option.

NASHVILLE – Since 2008, LifeWay Christian Resources’ direct marketing department has endorsed BackgroundChecks.com to offer background screenings for churches and religious organizations at discounted prices.

Through LifeWay’s OneSource program, all churches and religious organizations can receive discounts on background screenings for their camp counselors, bus drivers, staff, volunteers and more.

“Churches are realizing that this is something they need to be doing,” said Jennie Taylor, marketing coordinator in LifeWay’s direct marketing department. “With the OneSource program we’ve made it more affordable.”

Since launching LifeWay.com/BackgroundChecks in 2008, more than 1,656 different churches or organizations have conducted 25,470 background checks. Of those, more than 45 percent (11,656) returned a criminal hit. A “hit” is any kind of incident, ranging from minor traffic violations to felony convictions, Taylor explained.

Excluding traffic and non-traffic infractions (jay-walking, noise pollution, etc.), more than 20 percent (5,107 searches) returned records with misdemeanor or felony results. More than 1,600 of those 5,107 searches returned felony offenses.

Taylor said churches can conduct due diligence by utilizing BackgroundChecks.com as a step in their security and safety policy. Fairview Baptist Church in Columbus, MS, started using the site in 2010.

“Our mission is to tell others about Jesus Christ,” said Aubrey Adair, volunteer security team chairman at Fairview. “We have a lot of young people and children and we want to provide a safe environment for them and for other worshippers. For any worker who will be working with children 17 years and younger and for our security volunteers, we ask them to submit to a background check.

“This is not a foolproof process, but it’s a stronger method than doing nothing at all,” Adair said, adding that the church also uses the service for Vacation Bible School.

Adair noted the church has been pleased with the service from BackgroundChecks.com, including the turnaround time that gives results within minutes.

Country Oaks Baptist Church in Elk Grove used BackgroundChecks.com in their process of interviewing pastoral candidates.

“We were able to get an overall view of our new pastor candidate,” said Arnold Dallas, deacon at Country Oaks. “(Background Checks.com) verified his degrees from college and seminary and had everything electronic so we could print everything out and could talk by phone whenever we had questions.”

Taylor said BackgroundChecks.com works with customers based on their specific needs and will consult with churches one-on-one to let them know what is the best screening to run for their particular situation.

“We’ve had tremendous feedback from churches and individuals who have used this service,” Taylor said. “Already we’ve seen more than a 27 percent increase in participation this year over last year. That just goes to show how important this service is to churches.”

With a database of more than 400 million criminal records, BackgroundChecks.com has an extensive collection of public record sources, delivering reports in a concise and user-friendly format.

In order to receive the discounted LifeWay pricing, churches and religious organizations must register on the LifeWay Website. For more information visit LifeWay.com/BackgroundChecks or call 800-464-2799.