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What Do You Do with Volunteers Who Exhibit 'Gray Area' Behavior?
What Do You Do with Volunteers Who Exhibit 'Gray Area' Behavior?
Three attorneys explain how churches can respond to concerning situations involving church volunteers.

When confronted with reports that an adult church attendee who had volunteered to teach a youth ministry class had exhibited concerning behavior, a church had to make a decision regarding granting the volunteer Child Safety Certification to work with minors.

The volunteer provided references, authorized a criminal background check, and completed training, but others told church leaders of some troubling behavior. Church leaders were told the volunteer had made inappropriate comments to young female students while employed as a teacher, and he was later asked to resign from teaching for an unrelated reason. The volunteer was also reported to have made an inappropriate gesture to his own daughter in the presence of another child. Additionally, the volunteer attended a youth ministry class despite being previously told by a department coordinator that he could not attend because he had not completed the Child Safety Certification process. The volunteer snuck into the class and sat on the floor by the door in an attempt to go unnoticed.

For many churches, circumstances like these create a “gray area” in child safety with no straightforward violations (such as a failed background check) but also some facts or behaviors that raise eyebrows. Are these red flags? Are they innocent mistakes by someone unfamiliar with the seriousness of child safety in ministry? How can you tell if questionable behaviors are just flukes or something more?

In this case, the church decided not to grant the volunteer in question a Child Safety Certification, effectively barring him from children’s ministry at the church.

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Posted:
October 7, 2016
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