Set safety as your standard
Create a Risk Management Team
Risk management and a culture of safety require leadership. To start your ministry on the road toward ministry protection, you need a Risk Management Team. Here's how to begin:
Team or committee?
The answer to that question depends on the size, complexity and needs of your ministry. For example, each of the following could work:
- For a smaller church: Two members and the pastor form a Safety Committee, with one member serving as safety coordinator.
- For a medium-sized church: A seven-member team with one member serving as a risk manager.
- For a large organization: A Risk Management Team that oversees subcommittees with responsibility for specific categories of risk. The risk manager could be a full-time employee with or without other duties.
Structure of the team
- The Risk Management Team needs to be an official committee formed by action of the church's administrative body and should report regularly to the staff and administrative body.
- Membership should include a risk manager and approximately three to seven team members.
- The team should meet regularly, either monthly or quarterly.
Requirements for membership
- Members should understand and value risk management.
- They should be familiar with the ministry’s mission and programs.
- Look for people with professional experience and skills that contribute to identifying and controlling risk, such as facility managers, builders, lawyers, accountants, insurance professionals, teachers, law enforcement officers, current or former military personnel, emergency workers or firefighters.
- The team should have oversight of safety issues, risk management practices and policies for the church. They should identify risks related to four key categories:
- Property and facilities
- People: staff, volunteers, members
- Finances: income, accounting practices, money management
- Reputation in the community
- Each risk should be assigned to a team member for research, evaluation and monitoring. Select the team member whose skills and experience best position them to address that risk.
- The team should develop a written Risk Management Plan, safety policies and procedures for the church, with the goal of making safety an integral part of the church’s ministry. They should also create a strategy for implementing the plan within a reasonable amount of time.
- The team should regularly inspect facilities, programs and procedures and perform a safety review of new programs, special events, repairs or new construction.
- The Risk Management Team should strive to become experts in church risk management by staying up to date on your church’s legal responsibilities and potential liabilities.
- The team is responsible for communicating findings with church leadership and training ministry staff and volunteers. They may also provide congregational education in safety, security and risk issues.
- Records should be kept on file for a minimum of three years and should include meeting minutes, projects plans, training materials, receipts, approvals, etc.
Risk management is about ministry protection. By proactively addressing risks before they become a problem, a church can offer a safer worship environment while protecting itself against accidents and financial loss. By establishing a Risk Management Team, your church can make safety its standard and still keep the focus on its mission objective.