Common Questions About Background Screening

Why should our ministry screen?

Conducting thorough background checks on potential employees and volunteers is an important part of protecting your ministry’s people and its financial assets. While you cannot rely on a background check alone to ensure the safety of those you serve, when used in conjunction with other safety and risk management procedures, your ministry will be a safer place.

Who should our ministry screen?

All people involved in your ministry, both paid and volunteer, should be screened. Carefully screening people before allowing them to work in your ministry is one of the best ways to protect young people and other vulnerable individuals from harm.

How do I choose a background screening provider?

Choose a reputable background screening provider who provides comprehensive services. Some questions to take into consideration while doing your research include:

  • What is this company's reputation as a background screening provider?
  • What are other clients saying about this company?
  • What type of service area does this company serve?
  • What type of organizations does this company serve?
  • Does this company specialize in working with churches and related ministries?
  • How quickly does this company turn around screening requests?
  • How does this company deliver screening reports?
  • What type of customer service does this company offer?
  • Does this company offer different screening options?
  • How long has this company been in business?

What’s involved in the screening process?

The type of background check you choose for a particular employee or volunteer will depend upon their role in your ministry. Certain positions, like those that involve children or finances, may require more scrutiny than others. Choose a background screening provider that offers different screening options, to make it easier for your ministry to customize your screening program based on your unique needs.

Is a check of my state’s sex offender registry enough?

Most states have public sex offender registries that can be valuable tools for evaluating a suspicious person. However, sex offender registries include only individuals convicted of specific sexual offenses. There are a number of criminal offenses that may not result in someone being placed on a registry, but those other convictions may disqualify the individual just the same. There is no substitute for obtaining a thorough background check from a reputable provider.

Do I need written permission to screen a potential employee or volunteer?

Yes. Federal law requires that job candidates and volunteers give written permission before a background check can be conducted. Your background screening provider should be able to provide you with the appropriate forms. You’ll need to ask your candidate to fill in the relevant information and sign the form. Then you can submit it to your screening provider for processing.

Safe Hiring Solutions | Ministry Defender Solutions, a background screening firm for ministries, offers sample forms that can be opened in Microsoft Word and customized with your ministry’s information. Download the forms from their website.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ministry Defender Solutions, you can visit the company’s website or call toll-free, 888.215.8296.

Can I obtain a prospect’s driving records?

Yes. Most screening services provide this option. The service's customer service representatives will explain the process and send you the necessary forms. You should be able to order driving records independently of other screening options.

Where can I find more information about background screening?

Guidelines for Ministry Workers. This sample policy manual includes screening forms for workers with children and youth, response forms for personal references, and reporting forms to be filled out if someone is injured during an activity on your premises or sponsored by your ministry. Learn more about this free resource.

Updated October 2021

The information provided in this article is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.