I’m sure we have all heard the quote attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” As I review the Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM) claim files, it is evident that our church often experiences the same type of losses over and over. The reality is that unless we do something to change the results, we will continue to have the same undesirable and senseless results.
Proactive Risk ManagementThe practice of risk management is to stop and review the risks a ministry faces and then find ways to manage and mitigate them. Risk management must be part of our ministry; it is not in conflict with the church’s ministry. This concept reminds me of the parable in Matthew 7 of the wise and foolish builders:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” (Matthew 7: 24-26, NIV)
Are you building a firm foundation for your ministries?
Are you planning for the unexpected?
Are you providing safe activities within a safe environment for our members, guests, and youth?
As we move forward into 2017, my challenge to you is to stop the insanity and rather, invest your time and resources in some of the principal areas of loss in our church.
"Remember: risk management is part of ministry."
MaintenancePlan ahead for the upkeep of church buildings, equipment, and vehicles. Deferred maintenance leads to many preventable accidents. The leading cause for accidental slips, trips, and falls claims is from poorly maintained sidewalks outside churches and school. Maintain all equipment, invest in quality items, and purchase new equipment when needed. Each church and school should work with their local board to make sure items requiring maintenance are identified and included in the general budget.
SupervisionIt is very exciting when Adventist churches or schools conduct activities involving youth, as it is important to include them. However, when the activities are not properly planned and leaders neglect to include qualified volunteers for supervision, things can go wrong. ARM sees far too many claims for severe accidents resulting from insufficient and unqualified supervision. Please make sure to adequately vet all volunteers, including the use of background checks. Also, verify all volunteers are qualified with experience and/or training in the specific activity.
A leader is often tasked with the difficult task of saying “no.” If an event does not include correct supervision, it is the leader’s responsibility to use proper judgment. It is much better to cancel a poorly planned and poorly staffed activity than to notify a parent that their child is injured or worse.
Far too many accidents involve vehicles during church and school activities. Please take the time to maintain the vehicles in use. Are drivers qualified to drive the vehicle they are assigned to? During the event, are drivers well rested and taking the recommended breaks?
Remind drivers not to use cell phones while operating vehicles. Vehicles should not be overloaded. Require all passengers to fasten their seat belts. Attention to these details will reduce accidents. With specific attention in the North American Division, I ask that all church organizations remove all 15-passenger vans for transportation of people from use.
No Excuses“It has not happened to me,” cannot be used as a pretext to continue to operate a ministry the way it has always been done. The world is changing; ARM now sees lawsuits from areas and activities we have never previously experienced. As leaders in our church, let’s not learn through a preventable accident that an activity is dangerous. Educate yourself about the activities and events that your church will engage. Become a risk manager rather than an event victim.
My call to each leader in church ministry is to make 2017 a safer and saner year. Let’s make an effort to focus more in the area of risk management. Together, we can achieve great results and help our ministries be successful. Remember: risk management is part of the ministry.