Implementing a Safe Sanctuaries Plan for Your Congregation

Why should we implement a plan?

We should implement a plan because our churches, as communities of faith, should be safe havens and sanctuaries where children, youth and vulnerable adults can be confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal. Churches should be a place where everyone knows they will find safety and support for all God's people.

David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group, is more pointed:

"Our research consistently shows that how a church treats children is one of the keys to drawing and retaining new families. Sadly, churches expose themselves to all kinds of potential problems by failing to screen the people who will have contact with and responsibility for the children of strangers during church events. There is a level of trust that newcomers as well as long-time members place in the capacity of a church to provide comprehensive care for their children."

Read The Barna Group's full article, "Many Churches Neglect to Screen Those Working with Children and Youth"

What are the standards that our church has to include?

The conference requirement is that each church study the Safe Sanctuary information as a team and then create its own church policy with appropriate implementation procedures. Click on the link below for suggestions. Remember, each church should consider its context for ministry when creating both policy and procedures. 

(Link coming soon)

Local Church Self-Evaluation Form
Use this pdf form to help your congregation assess its policy needs for the prevention of abuse in your church's ministry with children, youth, and vulnerable adults.

Who needs to be on our church's team?

  • Pastor
  • Member of Staff-Parish Committee
  • Member of Board of Trustees
  • Lay Leader
  • Person(s) responsible for children, youth and vulnerable adult ministries
  • Representative from each group that works with children, youth and vulnerable adults (may include Sunday School, fellowship groups, choirs, home bound visitation and others)
  • Representative from parents of children and youth (have at least two parents from separate families as a minimum recommended number)

Should our policies involve more than protecting against abuse?

Yes. As churches develop safe sanctuary policies and procedures, risk management should also be taken into consideration. Creating guidelines and policies for use of church vehicles, use of automobiles for trips, proper safety planning, safe retreats, proper trip, medical forms to fill out before trips or special events, social media, and the list goes on. As you think of Safe Sanctuaries, think of creating safety in all aspects of your ministry with children, youth, vulnerable adults and the adults who work with them.

Sample Policies