parents oppose security?

i don’t know what happens to me in the middle of the week!? the last couple of weeks, i’ve been postingblogs on wednesdays and thursdays that center around topics we don’t all typically agree on. it’s like i’ve got an extra dose of fiestieness running through my bones as the week goes on.  it’s not like i intentionally like to start trouble. no, that’s not true. i do like to start trouble – IF it’s for the point of forward thinking and good conversation. oh, and of course if it’s for the children.

so, on that note, today’s middle of the week topic: parents who oppose security policies at church.

lately, i’ve been hearing from more churches who are implementing new security polices and are having a difficult time helping parents understand both the vision and the procedures. this happened at our church last year when we implemented a new check in system and secure hallways. we had several parents who complained and questioned the new policies. why is this?

i know adding secure hallways can sometimes add a bit of an inconvenience, and add more paperwork for families to complete, but isn’t it worth it? i’m still shocked by parents who expect inconvenience in the name of security for their children at schools, daycares, dance studios, t-ball lessons, and band practices – but don’t expect the same at church. why is this?

have we, over time, lowered the expectations so that parents don’t expect much when they drop their children off at church? or do we still hold that our churches are safe enough places which don’t require security? would love your thoughts & opinions!

i wish for something different, and am committed to figuring this out – because i long for the day when parents expect the church to lead the way in creating safe places for children.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Security teams and background checks are an absolute must. Just read these sobering statistics — they may even bee good ammunition for any parents that are extremely resistant to added security. http://www.familywatchdog.us/facts.asp
    I’ve had a few parents express impatience….but at the end of the day, they are grateful that we care enough to have a safe place for their kids. Especially if you take a moment to explain why.
    So often we think about only needing to recruit for Small Group leaders or Large Group leaders — but there are very gifted people who will help keep order and a safe environment. Zone Directors can help enforce room capacities, I.D. verifications (when those stickers fall off), and redirect people who seem to just be “observing”. They may not want to lead a small group of kids but they will stand guard and make sure your ministry is fun and safe.

    Reply

  2. Posted by amyedolan on June 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    joy –

    great comment! i love how you mention placing a high value on recruiting volunteers who will enforce security. what are your best tips for recruiting these people? we’ve had difficulty in our church filling the check in and security teams.

    Reply

  3. I have had a handful of parents at my previous church downright refuse to do our security procedures. It was EXTREMELY frustrating. They were the “I come every week to this church and you know who I am so I don’t have to follow this stupid rule” kinda people. We had parent cards that they had to show us that were laminated with their kids names on them. If they didn’t have the card they had to show us their ID. After making them go to their car to get their wallet, they knew we were serious but they still made a scene and complained loudly the whole time.

    I have found that parents don’t want to admit that the church isn’t safe. My old church had a rec program that brought in over 4,000 kids a year through it. Parents would let their kids run all over the church any time of day or night and not worry about it. There were strangers all over the whole church and it didn’t even phase them. Why? Because it was a church. They would NEVER let them run through the mall by themselves or through Target by themselves for that matter but since they were at a church it was free range.

    It still amazes me.

    What do we do about it? I’m not sure. But I know we have to keep moving forward as a church and HAVE policies even if it means making some parents upset. Because all it takes is ONE mistake to happen to ruin a child’s life, a family, our job and the church’s reputation to put it lightly. There is way too much at stake!

    Reply

  4. I know this is more of a big ministry mindset but you can break down these positions for the smallest of ministries too. When it comes to safety, you have to put your best practices in place and not be tempted to make your policies based on the small percentage of parents who don’t want to comply. You will always have a minority of people who don’t agree in just about any decision you make. I have yet to meet a parent that doesn’t want a safe place for their children….it’s just a matter of convenience.

    We recruited for several positions within an Operations Team. Honestly, you are looking for go-getters who like to take charge, have good leadership skills and value procedures for the sake of the ministry. We had a lot of business owners step up to the plate. And the personal ask is always the best recruiting method. Our Ops team was always on a Walkie System so we could all easily communicate w/ each other. Here are some of the roles we had:

    Ops Director: This was really the go-to person for a ministry hour. They basically replaced the staff director during the service. They oversee ministry and help put out fires. (One hour I had a business professional for this role and the other hour I had a teacher…)

    Zone Director: This person was in charge of a specific age group (for example: Nursery, Toddlers, PreK, Elementary). They are responsible for “opening” a room when 2 adults have arrived, enforce ratios and capacities, assist putting out “fires”, I.D. Verification when stickers are lost, and record room attendances as a check and balance for our database. They are the hall-monitors of the ministry.

    Safety Team: These people were stationed at entry points to the children’s area. Parents are required to wear a sticker to identify them as someone who belongs in the children’s building. I had a few police officers — as well as other dads who understood the power of “presence” — who volunteered in this role

    Welcome Team: These folks fell under our Operations Team Volunteers as well. They greeted guests and personally escorted them to the ministry rooms.

    hope that helps…. You can do it!

    Reply

  5. Great topic! I too continue to experience frustration with parents in this area. It is such a small thing for them to sign their child in or out, but yet so many consider it offensive, and take it personally that somehow we don’t trust them. It takes leaders, as previously mentioned, who understand why we need security to strictly reinforce the policies, because we will keep their kids safe while at church, even if they as parents won’t take the responsibility to do so.

    It amazes me how many kids are left to roam freely on Sundays before and after programs. One Sunday a couple years ago, we had a girl go missing, we searched everywhere (it was between programs, so she wasn’t under the church’s care) and could not find her and finally resorted to asking about her from the pulpit. There she was, sitting with a friend, not having told her family! …and we were not surprised which family this was as they let there kids run freely all the time. It was a good lesson for all involved.

    Reply

  6. When it comes to trusting your children to others, a background check should always be conducted on the individuals in charge–even when it comes to trusted Church officials and volunteers. The bottom line is, you don’t know what kind of record someone is hiding, and you should always take the extra step to make sure your family is safe.

    Read a great background screening blog post entitled, “Checking In On The Church: Background Checks for Volunteers” to get the full picture. You can access it at:

    http://hire4integrity.premieress.com/blog-0/bid/37766/Checking-In-On-the-Church-Background-Checks-for-Volunteers

    Reply

  7. Welcome to the era of make it quick and convenient! Our brains have been trained to think that when something isn’t convenient or fast, then there is something wrong with it. However, when it comes to safety of the kids that have been entrusted into your care and ministry, you cannot NOT over-think it at all.

    Another very easily overlooked problem when security is put to the waste side for “regulars”, is the issue of divorce and custody battles. I cant tell you how many times this was an issue at our previous church. Divorce can get ugly and a ex-spouse that is not suppose to be picking up the child always saw church as an opportune time to sneak a free visit in. This was a very difficult judgement call to make since the child clearly knew who mom and/or dad was. Same thing with older siblings coming to pick up their little brother or sister without mom or dad knowing. However, weeding through security procedures and finding the best protocol for your team and church is a must! We loved having a system at our previous church that placed a number on our kids tags and we had the matching tag. Only way for someone to enter certain areas of the children’s ministry, you had to show that tag. They could only be checked out with the matching bar code also.

    Having a designated trusted team of volunteers that will stick to the rules and procedures is of high priority, and in most cases, the very MOST important when caring for kids at your church. My husband and I have visited several churches where we have squirmed through the service because we did not feel comfortable with security after dropping our kids in their areas. To me, there should be layers of security that some recognize at first visit all the way to things only designated volunteer and staff know to do and look for. Like Joy said, “I have yet to meet a parent that doesn’t want a safe place for their children….it’s just a matter of convenience.”

    From all us parents out there that want the very best for our kids and sometimes can get caught up in the desire for the FAST or Convenient ways of life, please don’t stop visiting and revisiting your security and safety procedures. You will never be sorry that SAFETY took 1st priority.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Wayne Stocks on June 25, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Rather than approach this from the standpoint of someone in children’s ministry, I want to step back and think about it as a parent – someone who has been on both sides of the fence.

    As a parent, am I willing to sacrifice the security of my kids for 30 seconds? It reminds me of the story of Naaman. He was ticked when Elisha did not come to see him and when he suggested that Namaan could be cured of leprosy by being dipped in the Jordan seven time. Naaman presumably expected fireworks and a grand event to surround his healing – something befitting his status and the distance he has traveled. It was only after his servant asked him whether or not he would have balked had Elisha asked him to do something more difficult did he finally settle down and follow God’s plan.

    So, how does this relate to parenting and security? Naaman would have done anything difficult that Elisha had asked him in order to cure his leprosy. As parents, we would do almost anything for our kids. We protect them, we don’t let them talk to strangers, we baby-proof our houses to the point where lifting the toilet seat becomes an olympic event, we buy them floaties to learn how to swim, we pad the corners of our tables, we check out their schools and their teachers, we walk them to the bus stop, we hold their hands in the parking lot, and on and on and on. We are willing to make whatever sacrifice we have to to try to keep our kids safe in a dangerous world. Most of us would gladly lay down our lives for our kids.

    Like Naaman though, many of us balk at little things to keep our kids safe. Ask us to do something simple, like remember a name tag to pick our kids up at church, and we are not willing to make that minor sacrifice. I think part of the problem is that we get a false sense of security because we are in a church building. These are God’s people, we reason, and there must be nothing to fear. One need look no further than the headlines to figure out that that is not true. Churches are full of people fighting temptations, nominal Christians, and wolves in sheep’s clothing. As a parent, that is a risk I am not willing to take. I am not going to make them buckle their seat belts on the way to church then turn over to a ministry that does not care about their security.

    As a children’s ministry worker, I used to dread enforcing security procedures – even with the people I knew. Many were polite enough, but some are always visible (and often vocally annoyed). God however, did not put in this ministry to worry about there annoyance, he has blessed me with the responsibility to be a shepherd to his kids, and that includes keep them safe. When we enforce security standards, it does three things:

    1. First, and foremost, it hopefully keeps the kids safe.
    2. It let’s parents know that their kids are in a safe environment.
    3. More importantly than #2 I think, it helps the kids in our ministries to know that they are in a safe environment. If I let little Suzie go without a proper pick-up tag from her parents because her Dad in the Youth Pastor, what is little Joey going to think might happen to him when his abusive father who is divorcing his Mom comes by and tries to pick him up?

    I’ve rambled on long enough. Thanks for posting this. I am enjoying the conversation.

    Reply

  9. Dunno if this is still a live conversation, but I enjoyed reading through the comments. We’re a small-ish church with slow, steady growth with about 100 kids per week right now. I have a few questions I’d love to toss out to you guys who have some expertise w/ security!

    1) What do you do when a parent loses their “pickup card” (or whatever your equivalent is)? i.e. they check in, go to service, lose their ticket along the way, and come to pick up their child

    2) With Sunday morning check-in/safety, at what point does size matter? While I totally understand and agree that safety should be taken into account with ALL church sizes –principle–, a church with 1,000 kids will probably have some additional safety measures than one with 50 –practice–. I’m on board with the principle 100%, but any tips for -when- to implement certain procedures?

    Thanks kindly! Love the blog….

    Reply

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