August 17, 2016
As a ministry leader, you should understand the legal risks associated with pastoral counseling, and how you can protect your organization and staff against allegations of sexual misconduct.
Screen everyone and create guidelines
To help your organization avoid a potential lawsuit, screen everyone who you intend to appoint as a counseling to others. Review their qualifications, check at least two of their references, and verify that the counselor has no record of criminal activity or sexual misconduct.
Put your counseling procedures into writing. Conduct counseling sessions only on church premises when others are present in the building. Ensure that at least one other church leader is aware when the counseling session occurs.
Guard against the development of inappropriate attachments or relationships between the counselor and the counselee. Establish a set number of counseling sessions that a particular counselor can provide to an individual. Instruct counselors to refrain from any speech or physical contact that the counselee or others could construe sexually or romantically. Even hugging could be misunderstood.
Prohibit any pastor or counselor from privately counseling individuals of the opposite gender and make sure that a parent or other adult is present when counseling a minor. Few counselors start out with the intention of committing sexual abuse, so assign accountability partners who regularly check with counselors to see if they are struggling with any problems.
Keep records secure and confidential
Counselors should take notes during all counseling sessions—documenting the duration and time of the appointment, who was present, and any topics covered during the session. Document all one-on-one contact with people who are currently in counseling or who have been in counseling previously. Secure all notes and records relating to counseling sessions and keep them strictly confidential.
There’s a new scam in town, and ministries and other organizations collecting donations are the primary target. If your ministry collects tithes or donations, you could be targeted by scammers practicing donation overpayment fraud.
Beloved evangelist Billy Graham was called to his heavenly home on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, at the age of 99.
For the first time in its 13 years of influenza monitoring, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that every state in the continental U.S. is seeing widespread flu activity. Get tips on how to keep your congregation healthy this flu season.
Snow skiing. Camping. Whitewater rafting. A youth group trip can give students an exciting diversion from their weekly routines, as well as an opportunity to strengthen healthy friendships. Off-site activities may challenge your students to step outside of their comfort zones a bit, but this can bring about a positive result.
If you are in the process of planning a mission trip for your church group, make sure to think carefully about insurance, safety, and security as you hammer out the details. Extra preparation could minimize headaches when your group arrives on the mission field.
Has your church or school ever been asked to loan one of your vans or buses to another? Before you decide to loan your ministry vehicles to another organization, seriously consider the potential risks associated with such a decision.
Completing a personal property inventory of your church or ministry could be one of the wisest activities you can pursue. If disaster strikes and you file an insurance claim, you may need an inventory highlighting damaged items.
Have you thought through potential dangers that may confront your ministry? Taking steps to consider and address these risks provides important protection from injuries, lawsuits, fires, and dozens of other hazards that may affect your ministry, especially your employees and those you serve.
Small businesses—including churches and related ministries—can once again pay premiums for their employees’ health insurance. Previously known as an Employer Payment Plan (EPP) or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), these arrangements violated the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, due to a recently passed law, ministries that are not part of a group health plan now have another option to help employees with health care costs.
Ministries beware: An email scheme, designed to coincide with tax season, asks payroll and human resource professionals to disclose employees’ personal information. Think you wouldn’t fall for such a scam? You might, if the email looks as if it came from someone in your ministry.
Under federal law, most ministers have dual tax status. Dual tax status means a minister is an employee of the church for federal income tax purposes, and self-employed for Social Security and Medicare taxes. Here’s what you need to know.
Lawsuits against churches and ministries are on the rise, making their board members especially vulnerable. Sometimes, courts have found directors and officers personally liable when their actions have resulted in financial damages.
Incorporation takes the weight of responsibility off the shoulders of individuals and instead, places it on the organization. In contrast, a court may find all members of an unincorporated church legally responsible for negligent or criminal actions committed by one church member.
Large or small, churches and ministries are often easy prey for would-be thieves, especially as church holidays, like Christmas, approach and weekly offerings increase as more people return to worship and other ministry activities. Ministry leaders can boost their ability to keep thieves away from their contributions and property by taking just a few precautions—not only during the holidays, but also throughout the year.
Churches seldom look more beautiful than when they're decorated for the holidays. Candles, lights, and greenery add splendor to the celebration of Christ's birth. Unfortunately, they also contribute to a number of fires each December. As you haul out the decorations, remember to balance beauty with safety.
Having a hard time finding people to serve in the church nursery? Do new volunteers stop serving, shortly after they begin? There could be a number of reasons for that.
Do you remember the last time you caught the flu? You probably sneezed and coughed and ached all over, resting your stuffy head by a box of tissues and wishing you had the energy to do more than lie there. Well, it’s time to watch out. The flu virus is preparing to pounce again.
Every fall, thousands of churches across the nation sponsor hayrides. Unfortunately, these events sometimes lead to serious injuries, even deaths. By following these suggestions, you can minimize the risks involved in sponsoring hayrides and make your hayride a safe and enjoyable experience.
Last May, the United States Department of Labor announced a new standard for determining who qualifies as an exempt employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new ruling says that if an employee earns less than $47,476 per year ($913 per week), then in most cases the employee needs to be classified as non-exempt. This change will take effect December 1, 2016.
Issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws have received a great deal of media and government attention since the 2015 Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. As a result, many ministry leaders have questions about what the law requires and how they can accommodate LGBTQ* individuals without compromising their religious beliefs