Don't Take a Vacation from Background Screening 

Even summer staff should be screened and trained

In addition to Vacation Bible School, youth ministry outings, and other fun events, the summer months mean a change in Sunday school volunteers at many churches. Those who serve in children’s or youth ministry through the school year often take the summer months off.

In the midst of filling empty slots, don’t forget about the importance of properly screening and training all staff and volunteers who work with the children and young people at your church. Just because school is out doesn’t mean that your children’s ministry can take a vacation from safety.

Step 1: Recruit

If your church finds itself in need of some new volunteers this summer, offers some excellent volunteer recruitment tips. Keep in mind that Brotherhood Mutual recommends ministries employ the six-month rule when it comes to children’s ministry volunteers. This means that adults who want to volunteer in the children’s ministry must attend the church regularly for at least six months prior to serving. With that in mind, here are some good places to search for those summer volunteers:

  • College students who are home for summer break.
  • Teachers, professors, and other professionals who have summers off.
  • Retirees who may be gone through the winter months but spend their summers attending your church.
  • Older teens who regularly attend youth group can serve as excellent assistants.

Step 2: Screen

Once you’ve identified your summer recruits, don’t forget to 1) conduct background screenings on every volunteer—no exceptions, and 2) train volunteers. These resources—an employee training checklist and a background screening checklist— help your ministry start or revive your training and screening programs. They also can help identify gaps in your current programs.

Brotherhood Mutual offers a wealth of information about background screening to help your children’s ministry ensure a safe environment for the young people you serve. And just as you would for paid staff, training volunteers is vital to ensure each person follows your safety measures and incorporates your culture

Applications for adults and minors. Part of your overall screening process should require that all volunteers fill out either a youth worker application, or a renewal application if they served in previous summers. Because criminal background checks cannot be conducted effectively on minors, it's especially important to use a comprehensive worker application that asks for the names of two or three references—teachers, coaches, youth leaders, or other people who know the applicant well. For more information about screening minors, see "Hiring Minors for Ministry Work."

This article, “Vacation Bible School Safety Precautions,” offers additional resources for VBS programs, Sunday school operations, and other children’s ministry events.

Step 3: Have Fun!

Fun is a natural part of the summer season. Once you’ve put the right volunteers in place, sit back and enjoy the warm weather, sunshine, and fellowship that follows.