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Recruit and Verify

Protect My Ministry

Background check for employment or recruitment, criminal or drug check on candidate or employee, work experience or career history concept, detective with magnifier checking on candidate document.

Based on the Safety Member Certification training module "Protecting Children from Abuse."[1]

From the Bible

Misdeeds can ruin a reputation:
Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, And cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor (Ecclesiastes 10:1, NKJV).

Jethro’s advice to Moses:
“Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens” (Exodus 18:21).

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart (Psalm 26:2)

The Apostles’ qualifications for deacons:
“Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report” (Acts 6:3).

Qualifications for leaders in the church:
A bishop then must be blameless ... then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless (1 Timothy 3:2, 10, see also Titus 1:7).


When building a team or filling vacancies we want to recruit the most qualified candidates. Top qualifications include a candidate's training, skills, experience, doctrinal stance, and spirituality. These are the positive qualities naturally considered.

On the other hand, what about negative considerations? There are some things we do not want for anyone working in our church or for a specific role. For instance, do you want someone who cannot manage her own finances as the church treasurer? Or someone with DUIs driving the church van? We certainly do not want someone who violates sexual boundaries working with our children or youth.

In the News

Castleton, Vermont, 2010 - A man who had moved to Vermont from Pennsylvania in 2001 and had been teaching the Adult Bible Class in a church since 2003 was hired as the church's new pastor. He had not told the church of his 1998 guilty plea and conviction in Pennsylvania on charges related to sexual conduct with a minor.

Four years after this (in 2014), the victim contacted the church leadership with her story. Another four years later, in 2018, a watchdog website published the story and it gained wide currency, becoming public news in Castleton. As of 2019, the man was still pastor, but with stipulations of not counseling anyone alone, one-on-one.[2][3]

Missouri Valley, Iowa, 2022 - A man who had been convicted of child pornography in 2014 later on began preaching and leading a couple's ministry in a Missouri Valley church. This is with the pastor's knowledge. The pastor says that the person is a "changed man" and does not hide or minimize his wrongdoing.[4]

New York City, NY, January 9, 2012 - An accounts payable bookkeeper for the Archdiocese of New York was charged with embezzlement of more than one million dollars over a period of eight years. The archdiocese did not do a background check when they hired her. Her record included a guilty plea for misdemeanor theft and a conviction for grand larceny.[5]

Gary, Indiana, February 25, 2019 - A community youth sports group in Gary rented a tour bus from a local church to take more than 40 kids to an NBA game in Chicago. On the way back, the bus went off the pavement on the Indiana Turnpike into the median. No one was killed or seriously injured. The driver, an employee of the church with a CDL for passenger vehicles, was arrested for DUI. His blood alcohol level was over 0.08. The church had not had a driver's inspection for several years. Any previous DUIs would have been revealed in such an inspection.[6]

Videocast and Show Notes

The importance of background checks and the services of Protect My Ministry are covered by Kris Moloney in a Sheepdog Church Security Academy videocast (the audio is on a Church Security Roll Call podcast). Kris's analysis draws on his experience in the military, law enforcement, and church security.[7][8]

Beneath the video screen is a link to the Show Notes (an article summary). This downloadable PDF can be printed or attached to a message to share with others and to be a basis for discussion. The link will be for this article until the next article and videocast are posted.

Since a major reason for background checks is to protect our children and youth, we have a free download for you, "Childcare Code of Conduct." Click *HERE* to get it. You will also receive our monthly newsletter, The Church Guardian. [9]

"Trust and Verify"

When former President Reagan was asked how we could come to any agreement that mattered with the Soviet Union, he responded, "Trust and verify." In our world, trust needs to be backed up with verification.

When persons fill out applications for staff and volunteer work in the church, they have to answer questions about their education, experience, and other qualifications for the job. They are also asked about any criminal arrests and convictions.

We need to verify that these answers on the application and in interviews are correct. That is the intent of a background check. The search also includes other information, depending on the position, such as financial issues for those handling money and accounts, and driving records for those driving church vehicles, especially when carrying passengers.

An Eye on the Records

We can find out some information on our own, such as by calling former employers, schools, and churches. We can also do an online search for records, but can we be sure that we are not missing something we need to know? Also, can we find info for just that person when other people with the same or similar names are found?

The records to check include arrests, convictions (including plea deals, nolo contenderes, and guilty pleas), and sex offender registries. For those handling finances, check bankruptcies. If the position will likely mean driving church vehicles, check driving records. These records may be local, state, and/or national. Let's say an applicant for childcare is from another state, or even another part of your state. Now try to find all the places with records for that person. It will take time, and there's the chance you'll miss something.

There are a number of companies that conduct background checks. They are not all equal. Some do only a little more than you can do on your own. There is one that really stands out, Protect My Ministry.

A Purpose to Protect

Protect My Ministry (PMM) has been in business since February 2005. An alternate name is Protect Youth Sports. This may be the original name, but other than being listed as an alternate name, there is no other indication. This name does suggest that the company has expanded its field of service, a path followed by other firms and organizations. PMM is also either a part of or a partner with Ministry Brands, a company providing services, including technology, to "mission-focused organizations."[10]

A Service to Ministries

The story of PMM appears to be "from youth sports to ministries." However, youth sports could be a branching out, including youth sports organizations which are not part of ministries. Either way, the mission of PMM is to protect these organizations from sexual predators and others who would be a threat to their safety and integrity. Admittedly, sex offenders are the most critical threat, because their predation threatens the safety and well-being of children, youth, and vulnerable adults.

While individual churches and Christian ministries are PMM's clientele, it also partners with some denominations six of them are named on the PMM website:

Identifying Personnel Threats

A "personnel threat" is a person who would be a threat to an organization as a member of its personnel. When considering whether to hire someone, we need to see the red flags warning us that this person is not a good choice, either for a specific positon or for the organization (our church) as a whole. For instance, it is a danger to everyone in the church to take on someone prone to violence. A criminal or civil record of assaults, destruction of property, etc. is a red flag.

Another personnel threat, one frequently making the news, is a sexual predator. This person is a threat to our children, our youth, vulnerable adults (such as the developmentally disabled), and other staff (workplace sexual harassment). No position in the church, including the pastors, is exempt from this vetting process.

Properly handling a sex offender depends first on identification, then on policies and procedures. Those who minister to these persons need to do it in a way that keeps potential victims safe.

We have written about using the Dru Sjodin site (National Sex Offender Public Website). This is a start. However, there is more that needs to be done that may be beyond the capabilities, resources, or available time of church officers and staff to perform. This is where PMM comes in.

Our online search is a start. PMM goes deeper - depending on the level of service you choose. What PMM offers is

Continuous Monitoring

An example of the need for continuous monitoring is the BTK serial killer in Wichita, Kansas, from 1974 to 2005. He was a member of a local church, and was president of the corporation. No one in the church suspected anything until he was arrested.

If continuous monitoring had been done 40 years ago, a red flag would have been seen. In the 1980s, two women he had been stalking filed restraining orders on him. Another stalking victim filed for one in the 1990s. If these restraining orders had come to the attention of the congregation's leaders, he could have been removed from office. As it was, although he hadn't threatened any of the church's members, he did misuse his position and access to use the church for corrupt purposes.

PMM's Continuous Monitoring alerts churches in real time when there is a change to a person's criminal record. In the BTK case, this would have been the restraining orders. The first one should have been enough to require verification that the monitored person was the one under a restraining order. Then the church would have been informed.

Church Screening

This is background checks of applicants. First the applicant agrees to a background check. Then both public and private records are searched. The extent is the client's choice: local only, state, national, or specific locations. The report is usually within one or two days. Since records are not all up-to-date, an existing charge may not yet show but could on a follow-up search. PMM says, "At the very minimum the background check should cover Social Security Number Verification, National Criminal Search and Sex Offender Registries Search."

Volunteer Screening

Not only staff, but also volunteers need screening. Volunteer Screening comes in two plans: Basic Package Search and Plus Package Search.

The Basic consists of Address History, National Criminal Database Search, Nationwide Sex Offender Search, Re-verification of criminal records, and Alias Names. Address history and aliases are for identity verification. National Criminal Database Search is regardless of address, as is the Nationwide Sex Offender Search. Therefore an omitted address is not a barrier. All finds in these databases are re-verified to guard against mistaken identity, which is frequent with common names.

The Plus adds a court search, either county or statewide, based on address information. Some of these court searches have mandatory fees, depending on the jurisdiction.

Social Intelligence

This is an option. It searches social media accounts of individuals and their behavior online. PMM's Social Intelligence is structured to be fair and to not discriminate. It has been reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission for compliance with privacy and anti-discrimination laws.

Individual Services

This is a list of individual screening services. One or more of these may be ordered for individual persons. PMM has a description for each.

One example would be ordering drug screening for a van driver or a youth activities leader.

Online Consultation

When your church, Christian school, missions agency, or other ministry contacts Protect My Ministry (such as through Sheepdog Church Security's affiliate link) to subscribe to their services, they will consult with you to determine the best plan for you. This takes into consideration the size and type of your ministry.


Face it. Some names are just too common to take for granted that a record belongs to just one person based on the name. For instance, in a sex offender search, "John Smith" brings up 382 records nationwide, and 9 in Ohio, and that's only a fraction of the John Smiths in this country. On White Pages, there are over 100 in Cleveland, Ohio. Even names we think are uncommon (or not so common) can belong to more than one person. Some duplicate names may be cases of identity theft. We do not want our candidate disqualified for something he or she did not do.

Personal Background Checks

PMM also has something for the applicants. A person considering a position at a church, school, or independent ministry can have their own background checked. This will reveal how they are seen and what information the organization will receive.

The obvious benefit is to know beforehand what questions may be asked in an interview and what may derail their application. This will give the candidate a chance to have the information re-examined for accuracy. After all, erroneous information can be entered into databases.

As a case in point, I have received calls from public agencies asking the whereabouts of someone unrelated who has the same last name. And then I find out that White Pages changed my listing to an address where I have never lived. It just shows that information online is not always accurate. It pays to find out if your information is accurate before an error is used against you.


It pays to get competent professional help for background checks of applicants for staff and volunteer positions in your church.

Training Notes

When you establish a Church Safety Team or bring on new team members, they need to be trained. They can be trained and certified through Sheepdog Church Security's Safety Member Certification program. The eight training modules (classes) provide training that is both broad and deep (the modules are listed in the table below).

The three training formats are Team Certification (church-hosted classes), Individual Certification (self-paced online instruction), and Online Events (live Zoom classes).

The last Online Events class for the 2022-23 school year is "Mass Trauma Emergencies" on June 4. The classes resume in September. Since enrollment is good for a year, a student enrolling now in Online Events will be able to complete it in the next school year. Alternately, a student could finish the course with Individual Certification.

Color coding:

Related to Article







Training Module


Sep 11

Nov 13

Jan 29

Mar 26

Safety Team Fundamentals


Sep 18

Nov 20

Feb 5

Apr 2

Active Shooter Response


Sep 25

Dec 4

Feb 12

Apr 16

Deescalating Disruptive Persons


Oct 2

Dec 11

Feb 19

Apr 23

Protecting Children from Abuse


Oct 9

Dec 18

Feb 26

Apr 30

Basic Use of Force Laws


Oct 16

Jan 8

Mar 5

May 7

Arson and Fire Safety


Oct 23

Jan 15

Mar 12

May 21

Storms and Disasters


Nov 6

Jan 22

Mar 19

Jun 4

Mass Trauma Emergencies

Another training resource is the Church Security Guide. It has nine articles, including the one relevant to this article, "Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in the Church." Security Guide articles will give you a detailed overview of church security topics. They can be used to both preview and review a Safety Member Certification class.[11][12]

On Deck

The next article is "2014 Mt Carmel Baptist Church Shooting" (Lesson Learned).


  1. Kris Moloney, "Protecting Children from Abuse," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [].
  2. Elizabeth Murray and April McCullum, "Church hired pastor without checking his criminal record — then said it didn't matter," Burlington Free Press, January 17, 2019 [].
  3. Elizabeth Murray and April McCullum, "Timeline: History of accusations against Vermont pastor, and his criminal convictions," Burlington Free Press, January 17, 2019 [].
  4. Rebecca Hopkins, "Iowa Church Allows Man Convicted of Child Porn Possession to Preach and Lead Couples' Ministry," The Roys Report, December 12, 2022 [].
  5. Sharon Otterman and Russ Buettner, "In Million-Dollar Theft Case, Church Worker With a Secret Past," New York Times, January 10, 2012 [].
  6. CBS Chicago staff, "Inspection Records Called Into Question After Church Bus Driver Charged With DUI," CBS News (CBS Chicago), February 27, 2019 [].
  7. Kris Moloney, Sheepdog Church Security Academy, YouTube [].
  8. Kris Moloney, Church Security Roll Call, SoundCloud [].
  9. Kris Moloney, "Childcare Code of Conduct," Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2018 [].
  10. "About Us," Ministry Brands [].
  11. Kris Moloney, Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [/church-security-guide].
  12. Kris Moloney, "Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in the Church," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [/child-and-vulnerable-adults/].