As a pastor, you are often involved with several of the committees in your church. Among those may be the committee in charge of creating outreach opportunities for church members to become involved. Activities opportunities may involve passing out church literature, inviting people in your community to a week of prayer, or preparing meals for those in need.
During each of these events, your church members are out in the community focused on spreading and showing the love of Jesus. Volunteers may be unaware of the potential risks they may encounter while participating in outreach. How can you make sure your congregation stays safe? What can you do to minimize risk?
5 Things to Keep Your Congregation Safe
1. Do Your Research:Before solidifying any plans, encourage your outreach committee to research the area where they plan to visit. What is the neighborhood like? Is it a safe area or is it known for criminal activity or other unsafe conditions? What can your church leaders and members expect to happen? Answering these questions will allow your committee to determine where to go.
2. Call Ahead:Appoint someone from your committee to call ahead and coordinate with the person in charge of the event location. Are you visiting an assisted living facility or somewhere similar? Contact a manager to finalize details and gather the relevant information for your visit. Your contact person will be able to share the “do’s and don’ts” of that location. This advance preparation saves your members from inadvertently creating a potentially risky situation.
3. Hold an Orientation Meeting:Committee members and event leaders should meet for a brief orientation. This meeting should cover meeting times, emergency contacts, emergency plans, important information to know about the location, and any other items relevant to your outreach event. Allow time for questions to make sure all leaders are comfortable and familiar with the information.
4. Conduct Training:After your orientation meeting, it may be necessary to schedule training for the activity. Plan two dates for training to give all leaders a chance to participate. Training should cover what to do in an emergency during the event, the “dos and don’ts” specific to the location you will be visiting, and information on the closest emergency medical center.
5. Communicate Plans:Be sure to reach out to your local conference and communicate your plans. It’s important to confirm what kind of insurance coverage you have or will need for this event. Share the details of your event including where you will go, what kind of activities there will be, and who will be attending (adult members, youth, and/or children).
Outreach events and activities should be about showing those around us the love of Jesus. When we take part in these events, we should focus on exemplifying Christ-like behavior to those we serve. When we as leaders take the time to plan for the safety of our congregation, we allow the members to concentrate on their mission. Encourage your church leaders to implement these five steps before your next outreach event to provide your members with the opportunity to center their attention on serving.
For more information on church safety, visit Adventist Risk Management, Inc.’s website at AdventistRisk.org.
Elizabeth Camps is a writer and public relations specialist for Adventist Risk Management