Screen Well to Protect Children in Your Church

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As children's ministry leaders, it is vital that we get to know potential workers up front before releasing them to serve in the church. Knowing certain details about people's past before allowing them to serve also can save the ministry leader—and the church—a great deal of time and heartache.

Along with performing a mandatory background check on each volunteer, leaders must also establish a strategy for interviewing potential workers to serve.

The ministry must establish a strong screening process so the leader becomes acquainted with the individual's attitudes, values and motives for working with children, and interpersonal relationships. The process also allows the leader to better understand the person's goals. The goal of the children's ministry leader should always be to understand a person's character so they can place potential workers where they fit best while keeping the children safe.

Consider these principles and practices before interviewing potential workers:

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Set the stage by choosing a relaxed and comfortable environment that encourages honesty and openness.

Don't look distracted or act rushed during the interview. This will allow you to be mindful of the flow of conversation, patterns of experiences and body language. Each situation relating to the candidate's past is important to him, even if it was painful, so the ministry leader must listen well.

Focus on questions that reveal the candidate's true character and purpose. Avoid those that only require a yes or no answer. Ask questions in a way that allows the potential worker to feel comfortable in answering.

Here are some questions that will reveal helpful information for screening purposes:

Attitudes: What did you most enjoy about your previous ministry or church? What did you enjoy the least? What do you see as positives in our church?

Values and Motives: Why do you feel led, stirred or called to this children's/youth ministry? What do you feel you can contribute? Have you ever been misunderstood for wanting to work with children? Is there anything I can help you work through regarding your life, family or job? Is there anything I should know that would hinder your involvement in ministry?

Interpersonal Relationships: With what kind of person do you most enjoy working? How do you see yourself serving best with your co-ministers? With which leadership types do you feel most comfortable? Who was your favorite person to work with in the past and why?

God wants to give wisdom and discernment. Workers are more than volunteers and warm bodies to fill slots on an organizational chart. Pray for God's best ministers, and be willing to lead, pastor and train them to be more effective.

Lenny La Guardia is executive director of the Children's Equipping Center and vice president of ministries at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.

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