Churches, by the very nature of their work, make themselves vulnerable to crisis and critical events. It is impossible to be the hands and feet of Jesus and live inside walls of red tape constructed by lawyers. Like firefighters running into the burning building everyone else is fleeing, our churches go looking for the troubled souls most other groups avoid.
Churches remain the heart and soul of America. Our government’s welfare system would melt from the overload if our churches suddenly stopped ministering to our neighbors in need. But our passion to help not only makes our churches vulnerable to accidents and other liabilities, but it makes them targets for those shady creatures who have learned to work the system to their advantage.
You cannot crisis proof your church and neither can you stop being the church. But you can do a few things to protect your church and your people.
First, make sure your church is incorporated. Let a lawyer who is familiar with churches create bylaws that sets governing and financial controls in place. You can’t always stop the thief, but you can sure make it more difficult for him.
Make sure that obvious hazards are eliminated. Fill in the holes in the sidewalk. Don’t store old refrigerators and other appliances where children can get inside them or play around them. Keep your property clean and hazard-free.
Make sure you have insurance to cover medical expenses if someone is injured while on your property or riding in one of your vehicles. There are several companies that specialize in providing insurance to churches. Brotherhood Mutual, Guide One, and Church Mutual are among the better known. You can find others by typing “church insurance” into any search engine.
Simple things are often overlooked. Do you leave money in plain sight or in unlocked desks? Do you leave keys in vehicles? Are your buildings left unlocked when no one is around? It is easy for experienced criminals to learn your habits and take advantage of your trust.
These are just a few things that you can do to make your church less attractive to those who would do you harm.
Please let us know if you have specific questions regarding limiting your liability and exposure to crisis.