A safe children’s and youth ministry doesn’t happen by accident. It takes careful planning, strategy and an ongoing diligence to ensure a program is a safe environment for everyone who takes part. While we seek to have programs that are fun and attractive to children and young people, safety is of paramount importance. Hillsong Australia Children’s Pastor Jess McLean says, “A safe program is a fun program!”
One key element in our Hillsong Safe Church Framework is around the area of Recruitment and Screening of those that work with children and young people. We don’t want just anyone serving in our children’s and youth ministries, we want the best! It’s a privilege to serve with children and young people and for their safety, those leading them must be screened, meet certain requirements, inducted, trained and equipped.
Here’s what our screening and recruitment process looks like here in Hillsong Australia.
Step 1: Application
Those that seek to serve in any child related area should be part of our church for a period of at least 6 months. This allows them time to settle in, catch the culture and be part of a great connect group. An online application form is completed which requests specific details that would otherwise preclude them from serving, the contact details of two referees and includes agreeing to the “code of conduct” that sets safe boundaries for interaction with children and young people,
Step 2: Pastoral Interview
Applicants are interviewed by a pastor to discuss their application and their suitability to work with children and young people. Pastors also take the time to learn about the applicants interests, gifts, passions and talents and where they might fit best on the team.
Step 3: Reference Checks
Both referees are contacted by phone, by independent safe church staff member, (so there is no bias from a ministry leader desperate for new volunteers), and asked a set of questions to establish the applicant’s suitability for the role or position and the conversation is documented and retained on file.
Step 4: Working With Children Check
Each person serving in a child related area is asked to supply a state government Working With Children Check which complies with the legislative requirements of the state in which they are involved. The check must show that the individual is not precluded from working with children and/or vulnerable people and must be verified and linked to our organisation before the person begins serving.
The recruitment and screening of safe people is one element that contributes to a safe environment for children and young people. Keeping in line with ‘best practice’ in this area helps us to build a strong team of people who can minister to the children and young people of our church to see them grow and flourish in their walk with God.