How Do You Run Church Background Checks?

How Do You Run Church Background Checks?

Failure to conduct background checks was named one of the top 10 legal risks facing churches. In 2008-2009, 13.6% of church volunteers and employees had a criminal history.

Background checks for churches are important because these religious organizations cater to vulnerable populations (a.k.a. children and elderly). There's generally two ways a church can treat a background check:

  1. Screen employees and volunteers working with vulnerable populations like you would a nanny or daycare worker.
  2. Screen employees and volunteers who work in other positions (leadership, administrative, etc.) like you would any employee.

Screening Employees or Volunteers Working with Vulnerable Populations

Churches should run the same background check that a parent would run on a nanny or childcare provider. These background checks include:

  • Identity confirmation
  • Criminal records
  • Sex offender status
  • Driving records
  • Reference check
  • Child abuse/neglect records

Checking these records will give churches a thorough look at any volunteer's past behavior, especially when it comes to vulnerable populations. You can learn more about running one of these checks here.

Churches can protect youth by making sure no child is ever alone with just one adult. Churches should make sure all offices and rooms that children are in have visible access, like windows and doors looking out to a hallway. Setting up best practices like these, in addition to church background checks, will help protect vulnerable populations.

Screening Church Employees

Churches often have deacons, administrative assistants, financial planners, and other support staff to help keep their organizations running. Just like any other business, churches need to protect themselves and their congregations from embezzlement, fraud, and other liabilities. They can do this by conducting employee background checks, which generally screen for:

  • Criminal records
  • Identity and work status validation
  • Credit report
  • Reference Check
  • Education and licensing validation
  • Social media check

You can learn more about what's included in an employment background check and how to run one here.

So, How Do You Run a Church Background Check?

Running background checks for churches can be handled in one of two ways. Churches can decide to screen employees and volunteers similar to how parents would screen nannies, or they can decide to run a regular employment screening. If criminal records do appear, churches then have to decide whether or not these infractions will put anyone at risk or interfere with an individual's ability to do their job.

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