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Simple Tips to Creating a Safe Outreach Ministry
Plan properly, so that you can focus on meeting the needs of your neighboring communities.
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My last year of college, I had the privilege of overseeing 20-plus weekly outreach ministries to the greater Chicago area. Our programs included a sports ministry, refugee outreach, hospital visitation, tutoring, street evangelism, and soup kitchen ministry. I witnessed the breadth and scope of the impact such ministries can have on the communities they serve.

However, anyone who has participated in outreach ministries also knows how complicated they can be logistically. Outreach ministries expose the local church to unique liabilities, such as transportation. Inner-city ministries like the ones I was involved with required transportation to and from the church, and drivers were nearly always volunteers. How can you provide meaningful service in another community, and yet maintain a level of protection for your volunteers? Use the following simple tips to help you plan properly, so that you can focus on meeting the needs of your neighboring communities.

Know Your Destination

Learn everything you can about the targeted outreach area. The more you know about your surroundings, the better you'll be able to navigate the area and keep your volunteers safe.

Know your volunteers. Try to get to know your volunteers. Communication tends to be easier if there is some history behind the relationship. Even if it's just an icebreaker before the event, your volunteers will feel more at ease with each other.

Safety in Numbers

Have enough people. Your safety depends on the amount of people needed for a particular ministry. Before you head out, make sure your group will be safe with your designated number of volunteers. Depending on where you're going, you may want to split up into groups of three at the smallest.

Screen All Volunteers

Drivers need required license. Most states require a commercial driver license (CDL) for driving buses and large vans; check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

Obtain driving records. Obtain candidates' driving records. Choose people without reckless driving citations or multiple moving violations. Your ministry may be judged negligent for allowing someone with a poor driving record to operate a vehicle.

Take greater precautions with minors. If a minor is injured while volunteering, the church may be legally responsible on the basis of negligence if the injury resulted from the church's failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care in the selection or supervision of its workers. Also, when screening minors, contact local charities or organizations to see what their method is for screening and selecting students under 18.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

Posted:
January 9, 2009

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