In Part 1 of this article, we looked at the fundamental concepts of what risk management is and some key risk management issues pastors should manage in a church’s ministries. Now, let’s look at a few additional issues. Then we will share some resources and strategies to equip your church with risk management solutions.
CommunicationManaging risks associated with communication methods involves understanding what copyright is and the implications for streaming and social media. Having the right policies and guidelines is essential, but success also includes training for employees, volunteers, and members. When members see your ministry use communication best practices, it builds a reputation of professionalism and trust between you and your audience.
Key points to know about communication and risk:
- Assume that most things are protected by copyright or trademark law unless you have definitive evidence that it is not. Always get permission.
- Before live-streaming, proactively double-check copyright status, alert your congregation, and get permission. This will help prevent costly legal expenses and claims.
- Social media's benefits to your church can be maximized and risks minimized by outlining conduct and management standards in a social media policy.
- Taking reasonable steps to protect the privacy of the individuals’ data under our care is our responsibility.
Crisis CommunicationDespite the best of intentions, bad things can happen to good organizations. Some crises are genuinely unexpected. However, we have also learned that an internal issue can also turn into a full-blown public crisis when left unmanaged. History tells us many times pre-planning for crises can mitigate some of the potential damages that may occur.
News of a developing crisis may come from an external source. For example, law enforcement would be in touch if they are the first to spot fire or vandalism. A reporter may call after hearing about a past or present allegation. Unverified information can spread on social media, prompting church members or media to make contact.
Here are some other tips about managing crisis communication:
- Work with your conference to plan who and how to deliver your church's message to the media.
- Identify issues and respond right away to prevent them from becoming a crisis.
- When an emergency strikes, what you do in the first 60 minutes is key to the most favorable outcome possible.
- A Crash Course in Crisis Communication
- Crisis Communication Webinars:
Child ProtectionWe have a duty as church leaders to care for the young people in our congregations. Having a good child protection plan in place is something that no leader should ignore. The Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual provides excellent guidance that gets us started. This guidance includes the two-adult rule that ensures no adult volunteers are alone with a child. the six-month rule ensures we know who our volunteers are before entrusting our children to them. Processes like background screening and training for volunteers provide additional protection.
This is an area where all of us must be educated to lead proactively. Set the tone at the top so that all of your leaders, directors, and volunteers will take child protection seriously and work together to keep our children safe. Pastors who have experienced a case of child abuse in their church know how damaging it can be. It affects the victim and to their family, the perpetrator, their family, and the entire church. It is worth the effort to prevent any opportunity for abuse in our ministries.
Resources on Child Protection:
- Child Protection Plan
- Supervision of Children
- Bullying Prevention Video
- Child Check-In and Check-Out Policy
Where to Go From HereI want to encourage you to not work alone or in a vacuum on these issues. Much guidance and support are available to you on these and many other topics from Adventist Risk Management. We also recommend that you delegate the role of safety officer to a responsible individual who can help spearhead risk management initiatives for you. It is often a good idea to establish a safety committee to bring multiple ministry leaders together. They can support risk management efforts across ministry functions and share the load.
Encourage your safety officer and ministry leaders to subscribe to Solutions for free resource and education materials and opportunities explicitly built for our church. They will learn about the articles’ topics and be made aware of live and recorded webinars, videos, and other learning opportunities.
Resources on Safety Officers and Committies:
You Are NeededThe way that the Adventist Church conducts itself is measured not only in the leaders’ decisions, and in the day-to-day activities of volunteers. The standards we set for ourselves should reflect of the size and type of organization we are—large, organized, and mission-focused. Liability is a way to measure our responsibility as we make decisions about how we conduct ministry. We have a duty to preserve the health and safety of those entrusted to our care. Understanding and addressing our liabilities is consistent with our beliefs to care about our members’ and guests’ well-being. We should be an organization that reflects the Kingdom of God’s highest values with the strongest ethics and most excellent care.
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