At Hope, we love people where they are and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Anyone could walk through our doors and we will walk alongside them – that’s the mission of our church. Anytime we invite minors into something, we need to be prepared with safe standards and ready to get to know them.
Safety is a main value in Hope Family Ministry. We desire for kids and students to be SAFE. Churches have the responsibility to develop environments that help to ensure physical, emotional, and spiritual safety. Hope’s Family Ministry Playbook states:
SAFETY: We protect the emotional, physical and spiritual safety of those involved in our ministry to ensure that kids, students, parents and our volunteers experience God’s unconditional love and acceptance.
Here’s a short safety training video that we ask all volunteers to watch:
To ensure safety happens in-person and online, here’s what we are doing at Hope Community Church:
- The Rule of Three: In our in-person and online environments, we train leaders to NOT be alone with students.
- For online meetings, we ensure a minimum of 2 leaders must be present, or the meetings are recorded.
- Check-In is Essential for Students & Volunteers: This ensures we know who is involved in our environments. All adult volunteers must also pass a background check to serve in Family Ministry.
- Safe Zone Guidelines: We train our small group leaders to create safe zones and how to respond when sensitive experiences are shared.
- There are three specific situations in which you’ll need to tell Student Ministry staff, parents (and possibly the authorities) the content of what a student has shared with you. Each situation includes the word “harm.” After a student has divulged something, if you think there’s a possibility they’re being harmed by others, harming themselves or intending to harm others, you need to gather all the information you can and call a Student Ministry staff member ASAP.
- Safe Zone Document includes a Decision Tree (pg 3-4) for how to handle situations properly.
Leaders and volunteers, if you find yourself needing additional conversations or support on safety concerns, please reach out directly to your Student Ministry Campus Staff. If parents ask you questions about how we keep their students safe in our ministry, please also let your Campus Staff know and you can direct parents to this post on the Parent Hub.