Practising Safe Ministry Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

To help you navigate these uncertain times, here are some things churches should remember and do as they make the move online for social isolation and distancing purposes.

Safe Ministry Principles Still Apply

Your principles are the guiding truths or beliefs that form the way you do safe ministry. Churches need to maintain their safe ministry principles in these times. Principles are the WHY behind the HOW. They’re not the rules about how things are meant to be conducted, but they inform the decisions that get made about how things are done. What it is important to consider is how the principles apply to your church congregation in this COVID-19 context. Whilst we at Safe Ministry Check can give you some general advice about things you might implement in the move online, you want to make sure that these are in line with your safe ministry principles contained within your safe ministry policy and code of conduct.

Screen and Train Your Volunteers

Before we move on, we need to recognise the necessity for screening and training volunteers. Just like in face to face situations, screening and training is an effective way of safeguarding your church. This is something that you should continue to do and pay close attention to. Making sure you have appropriate people as volunteers and in positions of leadership is just as crucial as ever.

Speak With Your Insurer

Like all things safe ministry, your insurer will have requirements for what makes you compliant. In these times, it’s important that you contact your insurer to make sure you’re fulfilling your compliance requirements. This will also give you a good insight into some of the things they see as appropriate for ministry online. Again, while we can give you some general advice and tips, having your insurer inform your decision making is going to have a great impact on how you conduct ministry safely online.

Safe Ministry is about Vulnerable People

While it’s extremely important that we take extra precaution to safeguard children in this time, we need to be aware that safe ministry is about safeguarding all people. Thinking about how to protect the vulnerable in these circumstances is of great importance. As you’re implementing procedures for your church, you’ll want to make sure that they take vulnerable people into account as well.

Keep Things Open and Transparent

With practises moving to the digital world, it’s easy to have things happen in secret through private messaging and private zoom groups. These platforms aren’t a problem in themselves. For the most part, they’re used productively and healthily by most people. But there are some possible associated dangers.

Safe Ministry Check wants to help you establish a safe culture in your church, which is one of transparency and openness. One of the things you might need to consider is how you can make sure that there is openness and transparency as you make your way online. There are some examples of ways you might achieve this below, but it’s worth considering what procedures your church will put in place to keep things open and transparent.

Member Awareness is of High Importance

Safe Ministry Check knows that equipping all your church members with the safe ministry basics is instrumentally important for safeguarding your church. It brings everyone in your church onto your Safe Ministry Team. That’s why we offer it for free on our Culture & Compliance Plan. Member awareness is going to give each member of your church the ability to spot and report possible practises of unsafe ministry. If you haven’t already, make sure all your members have safe ministry check training of some kind under their belt. You might even need to send a couple of invitations to your members to equip them for these online times as a refresher. On the Culture & Compliance plan, they can do member awareness training as many times as they need, and it’s all contained in the $5.99 per month.

Some Possible Procedures

Disclaimer: the following are not requirements of Safe Ministry Check. You are under no obligation to follow any of these procedures, and best practise is to consult with your insurer about their requirements before implementing any system or procedure.

The following are suggestions of things you might decide to implement once you’ve consulted your insurer and safe ministry principles.

  • Run Members Awareness Training as a Small Group (click for a link on how you might set this up. You can screen share in Zoom and other online group conversation platforms.)
  • Always having two leaders in a youth group or kids program style gathering on digital platforms
  • Allowing parents to join in on programs being run on zoom.
  • Having a mandatory meeting to communicate your online procedures to your kids and youth teams
  • Screen recording meetings

Once again, these are not requirements. You’ll need to consult your insurer for their requirements and apply your safe ministry principles to the current context.

If you have any questions or need help setting up an account with Safe Ministry Check, please get in contact through our website, or contacting the phone number we have listed and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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