By Kris Bjorke
We’ve hit the point in the baseball season where it’s getting really interesting. To say I’m a fan wouldn’t be totally true, but I do love to go to games, to hang out with friends and family, and to watch a play or two.
Thankfully, the Twins seems to have a lot more wins than losses this year and post-season play is a decent bet. So, it’s safe to say I will jump on the bandwagon.
There’s little more exhilarating than watching a player on our local team steal home plate while the opposing catcher is trying to catch the ball and tag out the runner at the same time. As the dust flies, the hometown crowd leans on the edge of their seats in hopes of seeing the umpire’s arms extend into the “safe” position.
I AM THINKING MORE about being “safe” these days. We can mistakenly take safety for granted in the church, simply assuming that we are always safe.
It’s so easy to set aside conducting background checks on volunteers because it doesn’t seem as life-giving as other aspects of our ministry. And yet to skip this step is to miss the foundation upon which ministry can be built. If there is a breakdown or violation of trust, the rest of the relationships and teaching components are lost, not just for the moment, but for years. Without a solid foundation of safe practices, the house of ministry is built on sand.
“Without a solid foundation of safe practices, the house of ministry is built on sand.”
I hope we will take time to be intentional about how we keep our young people safe when they are in our care. Programs exist to help to empower our volunteers, while still setting protective checkpoints in place, so that young people have a space to learn and laugh and play and connect without thinking twice about the adults who support them. And adults can be empowered to make necessary adjustments to have healthy boundaries around young people.
If your congregation needs a way to provide education and background checks for your volunteers, the Minneapolis Area Synod can be a resource. It has partnered with Safe Gatherings to provide screening and to educate volunteers about how to prevent abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable adults. All Minneapolis congregations are already loaded into their system. If you would like more information or have questions about how to utilize Safe Gatherings for your church, contact me at FirstThird@mpls-synod.org.