Portability Hacks & Tips – How to Keep Your Kids Ministry Secure
There is a peace that parents need to feel when it comes to leaving their children at church. You will want to create environments where parents want to leave their kids and where the kids don’t want to leave!
These are environments where kids will have fun, learn about God, and be safe! This blog post and the corresponding, much more in-depth (do watch), video talk about the most important things you need to keep in mind when you set up your portable church every week.
1. In a portable church, security starts when the first set-up team person arrives and does not end until the very last child walks out of the building.
This is critical and can be easy to forget when you get busy with set up, but as soon as children are at your venue, you need to have security set up. Volunteers bring their kids in the early morning for set-up and they often roam unattended. Have your whole set-up team be focused on security as well as set-up, or even better, have a person dedicated to it!
2. Recruit people for your security team who are more confrontational.
You don’t want a security team member who runs from confrontation because they will have a difficult time if a hard situation arises. The video discusses certain personality types that would be good for this role. Have your team take a Meyer Briggs or Enneagram test and seek out personality types to fit the role.
3. Have a minimalist room quickly set up for volunteer kids.
This is a small, safe place that you set up first, where parents can drop their kids when they are setting up the rest of your church. It is typically a small room with the basics, a TV playing and a handful of toys, for kids up to age 8 or 10. Children older than that are encouraged to help set up the rest of the church.
4. Put your entire kids ministry environments behind an area of the venue that can be “locked down”.
Ideally, you will be able to put your kids ministry in rooms down just one or two hallways with a security team member at each entry point. If you are meeting in classrooms that have doors to the outside, it is important to ensure they remain locked to the outside with entry controlled by the teachers in the class.
5. Bathrooms should be sectioned off as part of the secure area.
Ideally, you will want to have completely separated children’s bathrooms as a part of your secure area. Even if you are unable to secure a bathroom in the “locked down” area of your kid’s ministry, work to find bathrooms separate from the adult bathrooms. This keeps both kids and adults safe as well as makes your kid’s ministry volunteer job easier.
6. Dual volunteers are critical.
Classrooms – We highly recommend a minimum of 2 volunteers in every space. If you don’t have enough volunteers to have 2 in each classroom, combine classrooms until you do. This allows for better communication and accountability
Restrooms – If your restrooms aren’t attached to the classroom (are down a hallway, etc), it is important to have two volunteers go for accountability. When that can’t be done to ensure the volunteer stands outside the doorway and does not go in alone with them. In the case where a child needs help in the restroom and they have to go in, they should let another volunteer know they are are going in.
7. Having a hallway roamer to fill in anywhere that is needed is always a good idea.
This person is a general “over watcher” making sure everything is okay from classroom to classroom and helping out where necessary in situations listed in point 6. They can also help check in a child who arrives late or fill any need that arises.
8. Rotating numbers on your check-in system.
Making the mistake of having the same number week after week leaves room for someone else to knows your child’s number and try to sign them out of class. This can be especially tricky in a situation where parents are in a custody battle, so having this in place before something happens is critical! Even if you can’t afford a system that does this automatically, you can still use a manual system that does the same.
9. Background checks!
Kids workers & security team members need to clear all security checks. This is a precaution that really eliminates any surprises and sets you up for success. Plus this provides huge peace of mind to the parents. Checker through Planning Center works great, or you can often do them through your local sheriff’s department. Re-check your teams every 1-3 years or if they take long breaks from serving your church. This should never be a “one and done” check. Along the same lines, it is okay to ask them to provide references too.
10. All kid’s workers should be identified.
Lanyards, name tags, vests, t-shirts, etc. whatever the DNA of your church is, you need to make it clear who the kid’s ministry teams are and who the security teams are.
11. Have your Security Procedures well documented and readily available.
Also, ensure your teams regularly review the documents and have your security lead ensure it is being followed. An easily accessible document builds confidence for both your security team as well as the parents.
Bonus Tip: Start at launch!
You may think, do I really need to have security form day 1? And the answer is yes. You have invested too much into your church launch to not make absolutely sure your kids are safe. First impressions are critical and your community will notice (especially those who aren’t churchgoers) if you don’t have a secure kids ministry and it will impact if people want to come back to your church.
All of these lessons have come from years and thousands of churches’ experiences. We hope that this helps you as you think through how to make your kids ministry as safe as possible.
If you have any other suggestions of questions about kids’ ministry security let us know! We’d love to hear your experience with kids ministry security in a protable church. And to check out our kids ministry gallery, click here.