It’s the start of a new year. The time has come to set intentions and goals for your ministry. Where would you like your ministry to be by the end of this year? For many pastors, this goal-setting process includes meeting with church leaders and committees to develop a plan for the success and growth of the church.A church leader or officer may have reminded you that it’s time to meet with your Safety Committee and you may have thought to yourself, “Is this really necessary? We haven’t had any claims or major issues over the last five years. Why should we have a Safety Committee meeting?”
All of the natural disasters and emergency incidents that have occurred over the past year are evidence that we live in difficult times. The need for safety and proper planning for the future are essential to the wellbeing of the church.
As leaders, we want our churches and schools to grow. But first, we need to provide a safe environment for employees, members, guests, and volunteers. The Safety Committee is where those safety conversations begin.
What is a Safety Committee? Why Should Your Ministry Have One?Church and school leaders must set aside time and resources to address the protection and stewardship of assets under their care. Implementing a Safety Committee sets the tone that identifying and managing risks is essential for your organizations’ long-term ministry. Committee members should include the organization’s top management, ministry leaders, teachers, risk and property managers, an assigned secretary, and any other key people in your organization. A Safety Committee helps your organization recognize potential risks and liabilities and be prepared for emergencies and high-risk activities. Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM) recommends forming a Safety Committee and conducting the first meeting by January 31, 2018.
What are the Top Priorities You Should Discuss at Your Next Meeting?Every ministry will have a different set of priorities and issues to discuss with their Safety Committee. Among the agenda items in your next meeting, ARM suggests including the following:
- Review and create opportunities for educational presentations during future meetings.
- Set a date to complete a self-inspection survey on the property.
- Review the completed survey and determine actions based on recommendations in the church or school self-inspection form on ARM’s website.
- Remove all 15-passenger vans from use.
- Review the risk management plan.
- Camps: Review and consider ACA accreditation.
Compliance with Safety InspectionsWhether you have a self-inspection form completed by your safety officer, an ISO report, or any other professional property inspection, having this information available for your Safety Committee is very important and strongly recommended. Why? Because to fix a problem, you must first identify the problem. Conducting a safety inspection allows you to determine the potential risks you need to address.
In this report, you will find safety recommendations for areas of the building that could be improved, repaired, or replaced. The intent is to minimize potential risks, reduce liability, and provide a safe environment for your workers, members, and students.
Pastoral Risk Management EmphasisIn this new year, ARM is encouraging ministries to focus on the education and empowerment of church pastors. The priorities of a church are often based on the areas that the pastor values and understands. If our churches are going to be more effective in risk management, we must raise our pastors’ awareness and knowledge in this area.
This initiative is not to detract from the spiritual role of the pastor, but rather to educate in the following areas:
- Local church “big-picture” issues, such as apparent authority of the pastor, contracts and contractors, child protection planning, and physical plant maintenance and insurance.
- Delegating with a system of accountability and follow-through by electing a Safety Officer(s)/Committee that reports to the board.
- Prioritizing self-inspections and follow-up on recommendations, as well as general safety and emergency planning.
For more resources on church safety, visit ARM’s Church Safety page here.