Q&A: Supervising Kids’ Activity During Dinner for Homeless

Should a children’s event meet adjacent to this high-risk population in the church?

I am a children’s pastor at our church of 1500. We host a kids’ ministry on Tuesday nights, which draws about 150 kids, ages 4 to 11. The church wants to host a homeless dinner program on the same night and at the same campus as our kids’ program. I have objected to this request, citing statistics that 46 percent of homeless are substance abusers, 25 percent are non-depression mentally ill, and the percentage of homeless sex offenders in CA has risen 2400 percent since Jessica’s Law was instituted in 2006. Our church leaders say that volunteers can supervise the homeless and protect the kids. I contend that the risk is too great. As much as I care about the homeless, this ministry should be on another night. Do you think a large children’s activity should meet adjacent to the large number of homeless people coming to church for dinner? Is this a reasonable risk to accept where children are involved?
I share your concerns. It would be difficult if not impossible with the large numbers of children and homeless persons in these dual programs to keep them separate. The risk can easily be managed by simply changing the night of one of the programs.
Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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