XPastor tries to help churches by providing some of the essentials for running a church—items like job descriptions, employment applications, review forms and policies. Below is the 2007 Kids Volunteer Handbook of Grace Covenant Church of Austin, Texas.
Welcome to your new position at Grace Covenant Church. The staff and lay leaders of the church are excited about your gifts and skills, and we look forward to your service as part of the church’s ministry team.
At Grace, we sincerely believe that God equips all believers to serve in ministry. In 1 Peter 2:9, God calls His followers “a royal priesthood;” 1 Corinthians 12:1 says that “God gives (spiritual gifts) to each one, just as He determines.” We sometimes use the term “volunteers” as a convenient way of referring to those who serve, but what we’re really talking about is people who lovingly respond to Jesus’ call to serve in His ministry.
Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that during your service at Grace Covenant Church, you’re representing both our congregation and the Lord as you live out every aspect of your life. As you minister to others here, as well as in your private life away from church, you should be striving toward living in a way that serves as an example to others of your own deepening relationship with God.
Section 1: Introduction
Kingdom Kids exists to minister to children ages 0-6th grade. The purpose of this ministry is to help introduce children to Christ, mature them in Christ, and disciple children to live a life that reflects the image of Christ. In short, our purpose is to raise up children that Know Christ, Grow in Christ and Live like Christ.
The mission of Kingdom Kids is to equip every child to be a minister.
Statement of Faith
1. The Holy Scriptures
We believe in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the verbally inspired Word of God. Inspiration is God’s superintending of human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the original autographs. All Scriptures are authoritative and without error in any category of knowledge, including science and history, and are of supreme and final authority in all matters about which they speak. We believe the Scriptures are to be interpreted in a literal and normal way. This means to consider history, grammar, context, and harmony with other Scriptures as guidelines for interpretation. We believe that the Holy Spirit guides the believer to understand the Bible. We believe that God’s revelation to man is complete, and that He speaks to man primarily through the Scriptures (Matt. 5:18; John 10:35; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21; Rev. 22:18-19).
2. The Godhead
We believe in one Triune God, existing in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, eternal in being, identical in essence, equal in power and glory and having the same attributes and perfection (Deut. 6:4; 2 Cor. 13:14).
3. The Alienated Condition of Man
We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that in Adam’s sin the race fell, inherited a sinful nature, became alienated from God, and is totally unable without God’s grace to regain its former position (Gen. 1:26, 3:1-24; Rom. 3:23, 5:12; Eph. 2:12).
4. The Person and Work of Christ
We believe that the Lord Jesus, the eternal Son of God, became man, without ceasing to be God, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful man. We believe that He accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice. We believe that our redemption and salvation is guaranteed to us by His literal physical resurrection from the dead (John 1:1, 14, 18; Luke 1:35; Rom. 3:24-26, 4:25).
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is now in heaven, exalted to the right hand of God, where, as His people’s High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of intercession and advocacy. (Heb. 1:3, 3:1, 7:23-25, 9:24, 12:2; 1 John 2:1-2).
5. The Personality of the Holy Spirit
We believe the Holy Spirit is a person who convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He also, in the present age, regenerates believers in Christ, baptizes them into the church, the body of Christ, indwells them permanently, seals them unto the day of redemption, bestows spiritual gifts upon each one, and fills those yielded to Him (John 3:8, 14:16, 15:26-27, 16:7-15; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 13; Eph. 4:30, 5:18).
We believe that salvation is a gift of God in grace and is received by man through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose precious blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins (John 1:12; Eph. 1:7, 2:8).
7. The Eternal Security of the Believer
We believe that all those who have genuinely put their trust in Christ as Savior and Lord have become new creations in Christ and are kept eternally secure by the power of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Jesus Christ (John 10:27-30; Rom. 8:1, 29-30, 38-39; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 7:25; 1 Pet. 1:5).
8. The Church
- We believe that the Church is the universal bride and body of Christ. This body is composed of all “born again” believers in Christ, regardless of denominational affiliation or church membership (1 Cor. 12:4-27; Eph. 1:22, 5:23-30).
- We believe that the local church is an assembly of professed believers in Jesus Christ who have the privilege and responsibility to voluntarily join together in one locality for the purpose of equipping each believer to be obedient to God through vital, personal and corporate experiences: with Him, in His Word, with one another, and in evangelism.
- We believe that the local church is God’s primary means of leading people to Christ and presenting each believer mature in Christ (Matt. 16:18-19, 28:18-20; Acts 2:37-47).
- We believe that the Lord Jesus instituted the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper to be observed by all believers until His return (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
9. The Second Coming of Christ
We believe in the personal imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His own, the Church, and His subsequent pre-millennial return to earth to set up His Kingdom (Zech. 14:4-11; 1 Thes.1:9-10, 4:13-18; Rev. 20:6).
10. The Eternal State
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all persons. Believers are to be resurrected to enjoy eternal life with God and unbelievers to experience judgment and then eternal suffering apart from God (John 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16; 2 Thes 1:7-9; Rev. 20:4-6,21:1-8).
11. The Responsibility of Believers
We believe that all believers should seek to walk by the Spirit, not bringing reproach upon their Lord and Savior, and that separation from sinful pleasures and practices is commanded by God (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 6:14, 7:1; Gal. 5:16, 25).
We believe that it is the obligation of every believer to witness by life and by word to the truths of Holy Scripture and to seek to proclaim the gospel to all the world (Acts 1:8).
We believe that it is the responsibility of all believers to remember the work of the Lord in prayer and to support it with their means as the Lord has prospered them (1 Cor. 16:2).
We believe that Scripture teaches that the local church shall have the priority in our giving (Acts 2:37-47; 1 Cor. 9:11, 16:1-2).
Open Door Policy
Kingdom Kids encourages all volunteers to provide input and suggestions concerning the ministry area in which they serve, as well as the overall operation and programs of the church.
Your input and suggestions will likely receive the timeliest attention and action if you initially bring your comments to the individual you report to. This first step of providing input is especially vital in situations where you have a problem with the person you report to. However, if for some reason that results in inaction or you don’t receive a response, you should approach the Children’s Pastor or any church leader —either an Executive Pastor or an Elder—to discuss your concern or suggestion.
This open door policy is important to increasing the quality of the church’s ministries, as well as for correcting problems that may exist in processes or relationships within areas of ministry. The church welcomes all input by volunteers, who should sense the freedom to voice any comments or concerns without fear of retribution or reprisal. We know it can seem difficult to initiate such conversations, but Jesus told us directly (for example, Matthew 18:15) that we should take the initiative to resolve such things.
As a volunteer serving Kingdom Kids and reaching out to those beyond the church, you agree to have the basic qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:7-9: be “above reproach” so that the world will see, hear, and respond to the grace of Jesus Christ; and you agree to seek a careful, exemplary Christian lifestyle to encourage other believers and strengthen the church.
You desire and agree that the following statements describe your character as a Christian who desires to serve others and, therefore, covenant with the Lord that:
- I have made a commitment to Jesus Christ as my Lord.
- I will serve in harmony with the policies and statement of faith of our church.
- I support the church with my time, money, and loyalty, including participating in the ministries and worship services on a regular basis.
- I am known for a dedicated Christian life, according to the standards of God’s Word, and I purpose to put any sin out of my life so that my influence to others might be helpful and not a hindrance (Rom. 14; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1).
- I am committed to unity, church teamwork, and biblical respect for church leadership (Phil. 2:1-4; Heb. 13:7, 17).
- I recognize, accept, pursue, and hold in highest regard the biblical instruction concerning family and marriage responsibility (Eph. 5:22-6:4; Col. 3:18-24; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).
- I will not use my volunteer ministry position to further my own interests.
- I will serve in my designated area for the period agreed upon and use my Bible and approved curriculum to prepare lessons in line with the beliefs of Grace Covenant Church.
- I will respect the privacy of the people I serve, and hold in confidence information obtained in the course of my service.
- I have received and will abide by the policies and procedures stated within the Volunteer Handbook.
Section 2: Orientation
Ministry Connection and Placement
Kingdom Kids generally follows these guidelines when it comes to inviting volunteers to serve in the ministries and programs of the church.
- Potential volunteers will attend the church for six months before they can serve as a leader with children or youth. In some cases, as determined by ministry or program leaders, potential volunteers may serve with an already approved volunteer leader.
- All potential volunteers will complete a Volunteer Application, Ministry Covenant, and Spiritual Gifts Inventory.
- Potential volunteers will be interviewed informally and a ministry position that matches the volunteer will be found. The church desires to recruit and place volunteers according to their skills, talents, experience, and spiritual gifts so that volunteers find meaningful ministry opportunities that enrich their lives.
- Potential volunteers who desire to work with children and youth will be required to undergo a background check. All information related to background checks will be held in strictest confidence.
New volunteers will undergo an orientation to acquaint them with the church’s guidelines and procedures, their ministry position descriptions, and their working relationships.
As part of the orientation, you’ll receive a copy of this handbook, which contains the church’s guidelines for serving as a volunteer; you’ll be asked to sign a “Statement of Acknowledgment” noting that you’ve received and that you understand the material contained in the handbook. As mentioned earlier, you’ll also be asked to sign a Ministry Covenant.
You will typically be oriented to the specific area of ministry you’ll be serving in, as well as helping you understand processes and relationships within that area of ministry. In addition, you will talk through your ministry position description so that you understand the duties you’ll fulfill as a volunteer. The goal is to help you succeed as you give of your time, talents, and gifts to serve others.
A Kingdom Kids’ volunteer is described as any teacher, worker, or other person who serves in Kingdom Kids, including activities such as Sunday morning programs, AWANA, childcare, athletic activities, retreats, camps, lock-ins, etc.
Kingdom Kids uses ministry descriptions so that both volunteers and the church know what is mutually expected, and so that the volunteer can be held accountable to fulfill the responsibilities of the ministry position.
A ministry position description summarizes your duties and responsibilities and gives you important information about your area of service. Your ministry position will be provided and may be found in the Kingdom Kids Ministry office. Please read and study it carefully and discuss it with staff if you have any questions.
Please note that the church reserves the right to revise and update your ministry description from time to time, as it deems necessary and appropriate. Of course, if you’re currently in a position, you’ll certainly be informed about any changes; staff may also ask you to help evaluate revisions and improvements to your ministry position.
Kingdom Kids does keep files on volunteers. Your file is considered to be confidential information and only ministry staff has access to your file. Even that access is limited—only on a need-to-know basis. Of course, you may request to view your own file at any time.
Volunteer files typically contain the following types of personal information:
- Application for volunteer service.
- Spiritual gifts testing and inventories.
- Ministry position descriptions.
- Letters and other records of affirmation/appreciation.
- Documentation required by local, state, federal, and/or private regulatory agencies, including items such as background checks (such as for volunteers who work with children or teenagers).
Volunteers at Grace Covenant Church who work with children and youth (and other vulnerable groups) must submit to various screening procedures. The primary type of background check includes a Texas Department of Public Services Criminal Records Search.
In some cases, the church will perform a national database check. This searches electronic criminal files and record databases of government agencies, including sexual offenders’ registries. Manual records of some records may also be needed in states or counties that don’t keep electronic records.
A Social Security number search verifies an individual’s name, state, and last three addresses; this prevents people from providing false identification.
The results of all screening procedures are kept in strictest confidence. Most of these procedures include certain rights for you as a volunteer, such as disclosure of the results.
Kingdom Kids is strongly committed to recruit and equip volunteers for all levels of ministry positions, according to their skills, abilities, talents, experiences, and spiritual gifts. Our church follows the guidelines established by federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws. We treat all volunteers equally without regard to race, color, gender, national origin, veteran status, or mental or physical disability.
This is important, even if you have no concerns about your own opportunities, because as a volunteer you need to remain alert to avoid words or actions that could be seen as racially, sexually, ethnically, or disability based. All workers are entitled to be treated with respect, and the church won’t tolerate disrespect for personal dignity.
Of course, this policy isn’t simply motivated by legal or policy guidelines. The Bible clearly says that every Christian can do ministry in some way! Each person has important work to do in the church, regardless of age, gender, education, or any other perceived “difference.” Consider these verses:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)
If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Rom. 12:7-8)
Clearly, all Christians have God-given abilities, skills, passions, and gifts that God desires us to use to build up the body of Christ and to glorify God. Whether your ministry is big or small, whether you serve in front of crowds or complete your duties with no one else around, God has a place where He wants you to serve. And He has built the church so that others also have places to serve as well. Every position and every person carrying out a ministry deserves your respect.
Americans With Disabilities Act
Kingdom Kids encourages and wholeheartedly accepts people with disabilities to serve in volunteer positions. The church works to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by taking the following actions:
- Considering all individuals with disabilities for ministry service using the same criteria that are used for volunteers without disabilities.
- Considering volunteers with disabilities for supervisory roles using the same criteria that are used for individuals without disabilities.
- Taking steps to make church facilities barrier-free and accessible, according to appropriate state and federal statutes.
- Making scheduling and other adjustments to reasonably accommodate volunteers with disabilities.
- Educating other volunteers that individuals with disabilities who serve as volunteers in the church should not be discriminated against.
Section 3: Behavior
Personal use of the telephone may not be a big issue if your ministry position only requires an hour or two of service at one time. However, if your position calls for longer hours with less frequency, using the phone might become more of a concern.
Generally, volunteers are discouraged from making personal calls on church telephones, except in the case of emergency.
The same guideline holds for calls on your own cell phone. If possible, look at your volunteer time of ministry as a sacrifice—you’re essentially forsaking your own time and immediate concerns to serve others. In many ways this is a stronger commitment of your time than you would give an employer. Make every attempt to give those you’re serving your full attention.
Like many items in this handbook, the goal here isn’t to establish a lot of rules you have to follow; rather, these guidelines are to remind you of areas where you could be distracted from your primary goal: to minister to others out of love and obedience to God.
Drugs and Alcohol
It would seem to be common sense that a church environment is not the place for any kind of consumption of alcohol or controlled substances. So why do we need a policy?
The goal of Kingdom Kids guideline regarding drugs and alcohol is to protect and help two individuals: (1) the volunteer, and (2) the individuals the volunteer serves. Of course, this general guideline can’t cover every possible circumstance.
All cases involving alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or related problems will be handled discretely and confidentially.
- All volunteers are unequivocally prohibited from manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, possessing, or using controlled substances. Any volunteer violating this guideline is subject to discipline, including dismissal.
- Alcohol abuse is equally serious in nature because of the danger it can pose to both the drinker and to others. Thus, any volunteer who is convicted of driving while intoxicated/driving under the influence (DWI/DUI) or of violating a criminal drug statute must inform the church within five days. The church may take various actions after such a conviction, depending on the nature of the volunteer’s ministry, and the individual’s desire to battle and overcome the drug problem.
- Out of a spirit of Christ-centered love for all people, including those who volunteer at the church, the church will work to help those who have a desire to combat their struggles with drug or alcohol abuse problems. This may include information provided during volunteer training regarding the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, the church may offer (or refer volunteer to seek) the following rehabilitative assistance:
- Substance and alcohol abuse treatment programs and centers.
- Community resources for assessment and treatment.
- Counseling programs.
Kingdom Kids is committed to providing an environment free of sexual harassment, as well as harassment based on factors such as race, physical or mental disability, marital status, age, and sex. We disapprove of any such harassment and will not tolerate it on the part of staff, volunteers, children, or youth in ministry programs.
Harassment includes verbal, physical, and visual conduct that creates an offensive or hostile environment. Such conduct constitutes harassment when:
- Submission to the conduct is a stated or implied condition for continued employment or ministry involvement.
- Submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for an employment or volunteer position.
- The harassment interferes with work or volunteer performance or creates an offensive, intimidating work environment.
- Threatening reprisals result after a negative response to sexual advances.
Prohibited unlawful harassment includes, but is not limited to:
- Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory jokes or comments, slurs or unwanted sexual advances, invitations, or comments.
- Visual conduct such as derogatory and or sexually-oriented posters, photography, cartoons, drawings, or gestures.
- Physical conduct such as assault, unwanted touching, bra snapping.
- Threats and demands to submit to sexual requests.
- Retaliation for having reported or threatened to report harassment.
If, at any time, you feel harassed at church or at a church-sponsored event, report the incident in writing immediately to the staff member you feel most comfortable reporting to. If the accusation concerns this person, report it to another person as well. Every reported complaint will be investigated thoroughly, promptly, and in a confidential manner.
If the investigation establishes harassment, the violator of this policy will be disciplined. Discipline can range from verbal or written warnings, a meeting with a pastor and/or Elder, or termination, depending upon the circumstances.
Kingdom Kids has an absolutely zero tolerance for violence. This includes even talking or joking about violence.
If a volunteer threatens or displays violence, he or she will be subject to immediate disciplinary action, including verbal or written warnings, a meeting with a pastor and/or Elder, or removal, depending upon the circumstances. In addition, the volunteer may be subject to criminal proceedings, as appropriate.
What is violence? Like many other areas, there’s no way to anticipate every possible situation concerning violence. However, it generally includes physically or verbally harming another, including things like pushing, shoving, coercion, or intimidation. The church reserves the right to broaden this definition based on actual incidents or additional information.
In addition, no weapons are ever allowed on church property.
Thankfully, while instances of violent behavior are rare, volunteers can help prevent violence by reporting any incidents to your supervisor or leaders of the church that could hint a fellow volunteer (or someone your church serves) is in trouble. The church will investigate all such reports.
Volunteers will, to the best of their ability, ensure confidentiality and privacy when it comes to the history, records, and conversations about the people Grace Covenant Church serves.
The best advice regarding the release of information about the people you serve is don’t! This is true whether you’re simply talking to a friend or family member or to a member of the news media. If anyone requests information from you, your wisest answer is, “Church policy doesn’t allow me to give out that information.” If someone continues to question you for information, suggest that he or she talks to staff or inquire at the church office.
The only exceptions to this policy are described below; generally, these exceptions relate to legal information and fulfillment of the church’s ministry and mission. Again, these exceptions are provided more for your information. Rather than determining if a valid reason exists for releasing information, you should refer the request to ministry staff who will either determine the validity of the request or seek additional advice about whether the request is legitimate.
- No information requested by an individual outside the church will be provided over the telephone or via email. Again, volunteers should reply, “Church policy doesn’t permit me to provide that information.” Refer the request to ministry staff.
- Release-of-information forms should be explained and completed in the presence of the person whose information may be released—before it is released.
- Any release of information or inspection of records must be specifically authorized by appropriate church leaders. Even in these cases, there should be no taking of notes, photocopying, or removal of records from the church property.
- Volunteers agree not to discuss any individual’s circumstances or records with unauthorized individuals, whether you’re in the process of serving or not. You may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement stating that you agree to and understand the importance of maintaining confidentiality about the individuals the church serves.
Section 4: Safety and Security
General Safety Standards and Emergency Procedures
Kingdom Kids strives to ensure an environment where members and visitors of all ages feel safe and secure. Just as the employees in a place of business are on the frontlines of ensuring the safety of customers, the volunteers of the church serve on the frontlines of ensuring the safety of those we minister to.
In general, as a volunteer, you should strive to:
- Serve using good and common-sense safety practices.
- Refrain from unsafe acts that might endanger yourself, the people you serve, or those who minister with you.
- Use any safety devices provided for your protection; for example, use safety belts in church vehicles or rubber gloves when changing diapers in the nursery.
- Report any unsafe situations or acts immediately to ministry staff.
In addition, please note the safety procedures in the following specific areas.
- Turn off electrical equipment when not in use.
- Notify ministry staff of any equipment that has cracked or exposed wiring, is causing a shock or emitting sparks, or appears to be a potential fire hazard.
- Familiarize yourself with the locations of fire exits, alarms, and extinguishers in the areas of the church where you regularly serve.
- If you see smoke or fire, alert the nearest staff member and/or volunteer and ask them to notify the proper individuals. If it’s a small fire, use a nearby fire extinguisher.
- Do not use the elevator during a fire alarm.
- If evacuation is called for, follow posted evacuation plan. Guide the group you’re working with to walk in single file and to proceed quickly and calmly. Do not run.
- If you and your group encounter smoke, stay low.
- Report to your designated meeting places and make room for emergency vehicles.
Only if time permits before evacuation, turn out lights, shut off equipment, and close doors.
Remain where you are. By law, emergency lights are located in strategic areas of the church’s corridors and stairwells.
First-aid supplies are located in many areas of the church building. Volunteers should become familiar with these locations.
Keeping Children Safe and Secure
Kingdom Kids’ desire is to draw people to Jesus. This includes even the youngest children who attend our church. We take our responsibility to care for children very seriously. These guidelines are intended to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can come to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
It’s important for volunteers who work with children to see themselves as partners with parents, seeking to provide quality care and instruction in the ministries and programs of our church. Our guidelines are
designed to protect and promote faith formation for each child (and each adult volunteer) involved in children’s ministry.
Everyone who teaches, helps, or cares for children must agree to follow these guidelines. They represent minimum requirements; leaders of individual programs may develop additional guidelines as appropriate to the ministry setting.
Architectural Precautions (Birth through sixth grade)
- Doors will be open or windows left uncovered so that the view into a classroom remains unobstructed.
- Children under three will be cared for in rooms with gates or Dutch doors to keep them from leaving the nurseries without adult supervision.
- Nursery changing tables should be in view of all nursery workers.
Please note: Never be alone with a child in the stall of a restroom with the door closed.
Supervision and Staffing
The designated ministry staff will approve teachers and workers. All willing workers will be interviewed and trained by the Kingdom Kid’s ministries staff. All must agree to undergo a background check.
If a student or parent makes a complaint regarding a teacher or a worker, the Children’s Pastor will review the incident and discuss it with the worker involved. Parents will be notified of any actions (such as additional training, leave of absence, or removal) that results from the complaint.
If an accusation of abuse is made: Any accusation of abuse will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. The Children’s Pastor will also involve the Executive Pastors and at least one Elder board. Subsequent meetings with the parties involved will determine further action (see also: “Allegations of Abuse”).
- At all times, there shall be a minimum of two adults working together with children. In a Sunday School or similar teaching environment, it is acceptable to have individual classes/groups with one adult teacher/leader, provided the department group leaders are present in the general area and more than one child is present.
- For overnight activities away from the church, such as sleep-overs or lock-ins, adults who are actively involved in Grace Covenant Church shall be used as chaperones. There should always be at least two adults accompanying each event and two adults per activity. When guest leaders are used, they must be screened and approved by the appropriate age-group minister and shall work with the children only when accompanied by a volunteer worker.
- A church-sponsored activity or function shall be defined as any activity, on or off campus, planned or approved by the appropriate staff person.
- In the event that adults find themselves alone with a minor, they must be sure that the counseling or teaching is done in an open area so that the minor and adult will be visible to others adults.
- Doors must be open in all classrooms so that visibility is clear for any adult that passes by.
- In small restrooms in classrooms, volunteers assisting a child inside a restroom must be sure that there are no obstructions in bathroom windows.
- When children use common restrooms, adults must stand in doorway, not entering the restroom.
- It is prohibited for one minor and one adult to go to the restroom alone, on or off church premises.
- Diaper changing areas must be in an open area visible from a doorway.
Child Security Policies
Drop-off Policy—Children should never be dropped off in a classroom without the teachers present. This is the responsibility of parents.
Registration Policy—Programs for nursery and preschool children will provide a roster and weekly sign-in sheet. Parents are to complete the information as requested. First through sixth grade students will be signed in at their class.
Pick-Up Policy—Parents of children in nurseries through second grade should pick up their children at their classrooms. Nursery and preschool children will not be released without appropriate claim tags. Children third through sixth grade will be released on their own only with parent’s written approval.
Restroom Policy—All workers may take children to the restroom. Only female teachers or LIT’s may assist female students in the bathrooms. When children use common restrooms, workers should take children to the restroom in groups, if possible. Adults must stand in the doorway, not entering the restroom. It is prohibited for one minor and one adult to go to the restroom alone, on or off church premises. Encourage parents to take their children to the restroom before class begins.
Discipline can be defined as training that produces orderliness, obedience and the capacity for cooperation. Therefore, it is both appropriate and an essential ingredient in the Christian classroom.
The goal of Kingdom Kids ministries is to foster a sense of both learning and fun. Often, discipline can be handled by redirecting the child to a more constructive use of time and energy. Keeping the learning environment active and fun will usually eliminate the need for a lot of discipline.
However, children must also understand that sometimes it is necessary to listen to lessons, instructions for an activity, etc. It’s important not to disrupt classroom times because that takes away from the fun and learning of fellow students.
When “discipline” is necessary, all interaction will carefully consider a child’s integrity and fragility. All children will be treated with gentleness, respect, and understanding. Physical punishment will never be used.
If the classroom teachers and assistants are unable to control a child after repeated attempts, the child can be taken to talk with the Superintendent. The Superintendent will discuss the incident with the child and, if necessary, the Children’s Pastor. If a child is deemed unable to control himself, parents will be asked to pick up their child.
If a child uses foul language, injures other children, or does anything to affect another child in a negative way, the incident will be discussed with the child. The teacher or Children’s Pastor will decide if the child will be allowed back into class or if further action should be taken.
General Classroom Management Guidelines
We desire to disciple our children to follow three basic principles. And because we see discipline as a part of discipleship, we use these principles and basic guidelines to help guide each student to understand what God expects of them in class and in life.
- Love God
- Read your Bible daily.
- Say your prayers always.
- Obey God’s Word.
- Love Others
- Be quiet when others speak.
- Use good manners.
- Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
- Be obedient
- Obey your parents.
- Obey your teacher.
- Use inside voices.
- Be prepared. Know your schedule, have your room set-up and supplies ready before the children arrive.
- Evaluate seating and room arrangement. Personalities need to be separated? Eliminate potential distractions (toys, open exterior windows, backs toward main entry points, etc.)
- Plan varied activities that are age appropriate and meaningful.
- Pray for God’s love for each child.
- Get to know children well—their interests, families, favorite activities, etc.
- Praise and encourage. Recognize children’s accomplishments and positive attitudes and actions. Honest praise reinforces acceptable behavior, instills self-confidence, focuses on the positive, and builds loving relationships.
- Redirect behavior. Nonverbal techniques such as eye contact, facial expressions, body position and touching.
- State class rules/expectations on a regular basis.
- Use child’s name during the story to refocus his/her attention—“Do you know what happened next, Mary?”
- Change activity when restlessness sets in.
- Begin teaching only after you have child’s attention.
- Remove or insist that anything brought from home (toys, baseball cards, etc.) is kept out of sight during class.
Appropriate Consequences When Problems Occur
State the desired behavior. If the child doesn’t comply, state it again. If he still doesn’t cooperate, state the consequence and be prepared to carry it out. The following are permissible:
- Change seating arrangements. Separate children. Have child sit by teacher.
- Time out. Remove child from the activity for a brief period of time to a specified place in the room.
- Speak with Children’s Pastor for further assistance, direction, and prayer.
Ineffective and inappropriate consequences:
- Sitting in hall
- Physically hurting child
- Embarrassing a child
- Calling or speaking to parents about the problem
Illness and Infectious Disease Among Children
In order to try to protect individuals from infectious diseases, Grace Covenant Church follows the following guidelines.
As representatives of Christ, we commit ourselves to obey Jesus’ command to love all persons and welcome all persons into the church. However, we also need to take reasonable care not to jeopardize the health of others.
A communicable disease will be defined as an illness, a departure from health; a particular destructive process in an organism, with a specific cause and characteristic symptoms that may be transmitted to others with the threat of jeopardy to their health. This may range from a common cold to the HIV/AIDS virus.
Policy and Procedure
No child will be allowed into children’s programs when he/she has any of the following symptoms:
- Acute cold
- Persistent Coughing
- Sore throat
- Cold soars around the mouth
- Colored nasal discharge
- Red or discharging eyes
- Skin rash
In addition, anyone who has a known communicable disease won’t be admitted into activities, programs, or childcare where the disease could be communicated to others who aren’t infected.
If a child is admitted to the nursery or children’s programs and is later determined to be ill, the parent will be notified to take the child out of the nursery or children’s program until the child is well.
If an individual suspects that a child has an infectious disease, or if it comes to the attention of another individual, the informed person should bring this information to the Nursery Coordinator or Children’s Pastor in a confidential manner.
Children who test positive for HIV and who are toilet-trained are welcome to attend Sunday school and all church functions and are encouraged to participate fully. HIV-positive children who lack control over bodily functions, who have open sores or cuts, or who display behavior such as biting, may be screened and temporarily excluded.
Parents of all children who attend the services will be asked to keep their children at home if they have any contagious illness.
The church nurseries will follow these precautions in order to keep workers and children as safe as possible from any unknown infection:
- Junior workers (under age 18) will not change diapers under any circumstances.
- Only adult workers will change diapers. The worker should use a new pair of gloves for each changing.
- Unless the medical community finds evidence that a diaper needs to be disposed of in any other manner, used diapers should be placed in bags provided in the trash can and taken to the trash dumpster at the end of the shift.
- Nursery toys should be disinfected at the end of each shift. Toys should also be disinfected sooner if mouthed. In addition, all surfaces should be wiped down and disinfected at the end of each shift.
- Nursery workers should also practice frequent hand washing, especially when they arrive at the nursery, before serving food, and after diapering a child, wiping his nose, or cleaning up a mess. Be sure to use soap and running water, rub your hands vigorously as you wash them, wash all skin surfaces including wrists and between fingers, rinse hands well, and dry your hands with a single use towel.
Allegations of Abuse
An accusation of child abuse can occur in any church, no matter how many precautions it takes. We must always be prepared to listen to and hear any allegation of abuse.
Like many guidelines listed in the handbook, we can’t anticipate every possible situation.
Generally, the church will be guided by the following when an allegation of abuse occurs:
- All allegations of abuse will be taken seriously.
- Situations will be handled immediately, yet with due respect to people’s confidentiality and privacy.
- Full cooperation will be given to law enforcement authorities with the guidance of church lawyers.
- Appropriate care will be given to victims.
- The alleged abuser will not be considered “guilty” or treated as such until an investigation can take place.
Precautions the church will take include:
- Alleged or suspected sexual or physical abuse of children shall be reported immediately to a staff representative or adult supervisor in charge of the church division of church activity. That person shall, in turn, report the same immediately to the Pastor of Children’s Ministry. All allegations or instances of abuse shall be reported immediately, without exception.
- The Pastor of Children’s Ministry shall have the duty of gathering information and responding to any such reports. The Pastor of Children’s Ministry shall immediately report any incident or alleged incident to the Executive Pastor.
- The Executive Pastor shall make a decision to report any incident that might result in liability to the church’s insurance carrier or carriers. The Executive Pastor shall also report any abuse complaints to the police if he determines that a police investigation is required by law, in view of the facts, the nature of the complaint, and based upon the information from the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator.
- All reports shall remain confidential to the extent possible. No information will be given out concerning any allegation or incident reported except as required by law, and in the reports to the insurance company, the police and other authorities.
- The Pastor of Children’s Ministries and the Executive Pastor shall have the responsibility of responding to and assisting any alleged or actual victim of abuse.
- The Executive Pastor shall have the responsibility of regularly reviewing the policies of the church and laws concerning abuse prevention and reduction, and making appropriate recommendations for any changes in the policies to the staff and to the congregation. The Executive Pastor shall also have the responsibility of making sure that existing church policies are carried out and enforced, and are being implemented in accordance with the policies and procedures approved by the church.
Section 5: Ministry Environment
Attendance and Absences
Because you’re a volunteer rather than an employee at Grace Covenant Church, attendance may seem like a sticky issue to discuss. If you simply don’t show up to fulfill the ministry service you’ve agreed to, the church can’t really “fire” you because you don’t work for pay.
Of course, the church can dismiss you. We need reliable people to fulfill the ministries and programs of the church—the children we serve are depending on us. If you have excessive absences beyond the scope of this guideline, you may be relieved of your volunteer duties. See Section 6 of the handbook for more details about termination and resignation. We expect no less commitment from our unpaid workers than our paid workers.
So attendance—whether it’s for training meetings, fellowship times with ministry team members or during your scheduled time of serving—is a commitment you must make, and then take seriously. Again, the children you serve are depending on you.
Some absences will likely be necessary. You may get ill, injured, or may be called out of town for business or personal reasons. If you know in advance that you won’t be able to serve during a time you’re scheduled, or that you can’t attend a scheduled meeting, be sure to inform staff. Additionally, ask for a list of other approved volunteers who might be able to substitute for you if you don’t already have such a list. Then, make an effort to find your own substitute or to “trade” scheduled service times with another volunteer. Finding a replacement is primarily your responsibility, not the staff’s.
If your absence is caused by an emergency, inform staff. You should still make an effort to search for a replacement, but under some circumstances, you may not be able to accomplish this.
If staff notices a pattern of absences, he or she may follow up to see if something besides illness seems to be the real reason you’re not able to serve. Don’t consider this a confrontation. Staff—and all the leadership of the church—have two concerns. One is for the children who may be left out if you’re unable to serve. The other is for you. Perhaps you’re not in a place of ministry that “fits” you. If this is the case, staff can work to plug you into a place of serving that better matches your gifts and skills.
In fact, this is an area where you should be proactive. Rather than avoiding a ministry task that you feel uncomfortable performing, go to the staff and ask about other needs in the church. There are bound to be plenty of other places to serve, and there’s bound to be one that fits you.
Use of Personal Property
In church service, it’s not uncommon to use personal belongings to supplement the supplies you use to fulfill your ministry. For example, you might bring items to decorate ministry spaces such as classrooms and common areas. Please make sure that all such items are prominently marked to prove your ownership.
While your work as a volunteer may require that you use personal property in your area of ministry, Grace Covenant Church suggests that you do not bring large sums of money, jewelry, or other valuables with you during your times of service. The church cannot be responsible for personal property that is stolen, lost, damaged, or destroyed.
If you find personal belongings that another person has lost on church property, please turn them in to your supervisor or to the church office. Unless an item seems to have great monetary value, all lost items not claimed within approximately sixty days may be donated to a local charitable organization such as Goodwill or Salvation Army.
Personal Use of Church Property
While it’s very likely that you’ll be using church property, supplies, materials, etc., during your volunteer ministry, it’s wise to take care not to use these items for your personal use. Why? After all, for example, does it really hurt to make a few photocopies? Most of us don’t realize that if everyone in the church just makes a few copies each week, the expense for paper, toner, and service calls on the photocopier can easily add up fast.
The same is true of other items around the church. It’s easy to think that if you’re a faithful financial giver to the ministry of the church, it won’t hurt to consume these items for personal use. But this practice can lead to poor stewardship, both on the part of the volunteer and for the church.
Instead, carefully walk that fine line between ministry use and personal use. If it helps, keep a log of what materials you’re using. Certainly, make use of logs and inventory restocking lists around the church (for photocopying or in the Sunday school supply room, for example).
Similarly, if you purchase something for ministry use with personal funds, submit a reimbursement form. While it might be easier to “just donate” that item to the church, it’s a better model of stewardship for the church to fully account for all income and expenses; this practice also helps those responsible for budgeting make sure they’re adequately funding these areas, as they can build their budgets on actual uses and expenses.
Vehicle Use and Driving Records
This policy affects any individual who may need to drive a vehicle owned by Grace Covenant Church or use a personal vehicle while conducting church business or ministry. Prior to driving a vehicle, the following information needs to be on file in the church office:
- Driver’s license number, expiration date, and any restrictions.
- A record check with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (see page 10 for information on background checks).
- Proof of insurance, if your personal vehicle is used for church business or ministry.
All information about the driving records of volunteers will be kept confidential. It is your responsibility to keep information up-to-date, including reporting to staff any moving violations or changes in driving status within five days of the violation or change.
If a volunteer accumulates more than two moving violations in any vehicle—personal or church-owned—it will be up to the church’s insurance carrier to decide if the volunteer can continue serving in that particular ministry position.
Some ministry positions may require a commercial driver’s license in addition to a clean driving record. Some positions may also require additional background checks (such as when you’re providing transportation for children or teenagers).
Safe driving practices, speed limits, and other driving laws must be observed at all times. The church isn’t responsible for fines incurred by volunteers while driving a church vehicle or a personal vehicle while on church business. Volunteers must report accidents, no matter how minor, to the police before leaving the scene of the accident.
In most cases, mileage for use of your personal vehicle will be reimbursed at the current rate allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.
Section 6: Ending Your Service
Volunteers who desire to leave their ministry positions should attempt to give at least two weeks notice (preferably both verbally and in writing) of their intent to resign. This allows staff time to recruit new volunteers to fill vacant positions.
If you are experiencing some dissatisfaction or discontentment in your ministry position that is leading you to resign, be sure to discuss your concerns with staff. Ideally, talk with staff before circumstances reach the point that you feel that resigning is your only option. Staff may be able to change conditions in the ministry or program you’re serving in, rearrange ministry teams so you’re not forced to serve with a difficult co-worker, or work with you to change your ministry description to make the duties more enjoyable.
If you’re convinced that changes in your current position won’t help, perhaps an entirely different position would be better suited to your gifts, abilities, and passions. Before you give up on volunteer ministry, be sure to give it another chance. Finding the right fit in ministry can bring you a great sense of personal satisfaction, and it can be very fulfilling and rewarding to fulfill the purpose for which God created and gifted you.
Dismissal from volunteer ministry positions at Grace Covenant Church is a rare occurrence. However, it may occur if a volunteer commits a serious offense.
As with other serious violations of a moral or spiritual nature, the church wants to help those who are struggling with problems and who express a sincere desire to change. Out of a spirit of Christ-centered love for all people, including those who volunteer at the church, the church may offer the volunteer (or refer him or her to seek) the following types of assistance:
- Treatment programs and centers.
- Community programs for assessment and treatment.
- Counseling programs.
Some offenses may warrant dismissal, particularly if the volunteer doesn’t express remorse or a willingness to change. These include but are not limited to:
- Theft: Including the removal of church property or the property of another individual from church facilities without prior authorization.
- Drugs/alcohol: Possession, use, sale, purchase, or distribution on church property of alcohol or any illegal drugs or illegally possessed drugs. Also, reporting to serve in a ministry or program after having ingested alcohol or illegal drugs or illegally possessed drugs, in a condition that adversely affects the volunteer’s ability to safely and effectively perform his or her job functions, or which would imperil the safety of others (see earlier pages for specific guidelines concerning drug and alcohol abuse).
- Falsifying or altering church records.
- Sabotaging or willfully damaging church equipment or the property of others.
- Insubordination involving defaming, assaulting, or threatening to assault staff.
- Fighting or provoking a fight on church premises.
- Carrying concealed weapons on church property.
Kingdom Kids is committed to helping every Christian find, and be equipped for, the ministry for which God called them. So if you decide to leave an area of ministry, we desire to evaluate the circumstances surrounding why you’re ending your term of service, whether the separation is voluntary or involuntary. Exploring your reasons for leaving or the factors resulting in termination enables us to evaluate how that ministry area can be improved to make volunteer service more satisfactory.
Information you share will be kept in confidence by the church; nothing will be included in the record that identifies you personally.
Kingdom Kids would love to receive your feedback about your service in Kingdom Kids by conducting an exit interview, the staff will use an exit interview checklist to provide structure for the discussion. Some of the items that may be discussed include:
- The reasons for the separation.
- Plans for future service and updating your contact information.
- Equipment/key return.
- Your interest in serving in another area of ministry.
- Your suggestions and comments to improve the area of ministry you’re leaving.
Section 7: Forms
Note: All of these forms are available for separate download. They are repeated in this section for convenience in adding them to your handbook.
- Application/Personal Information
- Change of Personal Information
- Permission to Conduct Background Check
- Accident/Injury Report
- Orientation Checklist
- Letter of Acceptance (you may wish to insert this as the first page in each new worker’s handbook)
- Expense Reimbursement
- Mileage Report
- Parental Consent Form
- Liability Release Form
- Exit Interview Questionnaire
- Request to Attend Training
- Confidentiality Agreement
- Handbook Acknowledgement
- Statement of Commitment
View the original PDF: Kids Volunteer Handbook