More churches implement background checks for church workers

“On average, we add 160 customers a month,” says Jennie Morris of LifeWay, the Christian research and Christian resources company. Those 160 customers a month are churches who approach LifeWay asking them to do background checks in partnership with for individuals who wish to work for or volunteer for their ministries.

Just last year the company added 1,800 new churches to their customer list already numbering over 10,000. LifeWay’s background check program is offered at what many churches consider a bargain price for the organization to check terrorist watch lists, sex offender registries, Social Security number validations, and felony-misdemeanor-traffic violation searches. About 20% of their searches come up with a misdemeanor or worse crime.

Churches who use the service list several reasons why they believe it’s worth it:

  1. It acts as a deterrent, discouraging people from volunteering or applying for a ministry job who know they could potentially be a risk even if they don’t admit it.
  2. It protects kids from potentially dangerous people.
  3. It gives peace of mind to family members who have young children and teens attending church functions.
  4. It acts as legal protection for churches.

It’s great that a large number of churches are recognizing the need for this, given the many incidents of abuse in churches that are reported in local or national news these days. Background checks, in my opinion, should definitely be a significant part of Peter’s admonition in 1 Peter 5:2 for the elders of the church to take oversight of the congregation– a word that implies the idea of exercising protection.

Source: Aaron Earls, Churches ramp up background checks to ensure safety, Baptist Press, January 8, 2019.

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