April 17, 2014
Youth Ministry Roundtable: Part three of a five-part series focused on issues related to risk and safety.
With the "Youth Ministry in America" survey results as a starting point, we continue our roundtable discussion. Today we discuss the important—and sometimes overlooked—issue of safety training in churches. (If you missed the last two blog posts on the top concerns facing youth ministry and communication policies in youth ministry, you'll find them here and here.)
Roundtable participants: Brian McAuliffe, CFO at Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois; Garland Owensby, professor at Southwestern Assembly of God University in Texas and a volunteer youth worker; Brad Neese, teaching pastor at Berrien Center Bible Church in Michigan; Laura Leonard, associate editor of BuildingChurchLeaders.com and a volunteer youth leader in Illinois; and Wes Trevor, youth director at Central Presbyterian Church in Colorado. Ashley Moore, assistant editor for the Church Law & Tax Group moderated this roundtable—with assistance from editorial resident Andrew Finch.
Ashley Moore: According to our research, about one-third of youth pastors and youth workers say that their church provides training on child abuse awareness and reporting. More than three in ten respondents say they didn’t receive any training. Do your churches have any safety training?
Wes Trevor: We have a policy manual that dictates reporting structure, but we do not have annual abuse awareness training. I have been here two years and I still have not received formal training from the church.
Brian McAuliffe: We try to go over our manual during our leaders’ meetings once a year. We also have a reporting structure. So if our leaders or volunteers see something alarming, they bring it up the chain. We usually get pastoral and church staff involved in the reporting.