The Mission of Protect My Ministry
From the Bible
* The Apostles stated qualifications for the first deacons:
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3).
* Paul specified the qualifications for church leaders - elders, pastors/bishops, and deacons/deaconesses:
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; ... Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well (1 Timothy 3:2-3, 6-12. See also Titus 1:5-9).
How can we know a person's character? We can't see into their mind and soul - only God can do that. However, Jesus said that we will know them according to their fruits (Matt. 7:16, 20). What they've done and said and what they are doing and saying indicate their character. This is the purpose of applications, interviews, and screenings. We may be able to satisfactorily screen a few persons, but what if there are many?
The current featured resources are a Safety Member Certification program training module ("Protecting Children from Abuse v4"), a Church Security Guide article ("Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults"), a free downloadable resource (A Code to Live By), and an affiliate membership with the subject of this article, Protect My Ministry.
Protecting Children from Abuse
Most jobs have some degree of training. For many jobs, regular refresher training and updated instruction are required, even advanced training for technical jobs (such as mechanical maintenance). In most professions, continuing education is mandatory for remaining licensed.
For a Church Safety Ministry, training is essential to doing the job and doing it well. For instance, we should protect the children, youth, and vulnerable adults in our church from various kinds of abuse. There are also legal issues involved. For one thing, when someone in the church is abused, it opens the door to legal liability, both civil and criminal. Also, most states have reporting mandates for when abuse is known or reasonably suspected, even when the abuse happens apart from the institution's premises, programs, or personnel.
The training module "Protecting Children from Abuse" explains what abuse is and how to recognize it. It goes on to tell how to prevent it and what to do if it is detected.
This is one of seven training modules in the Safety Member Certification program. Church safety teams are encouraged to get all their members trained and certified. The training mode can be in-person classes, individual online training, or live Zoom classes.
Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults
This article in the Church Security Guide is a deep overview of how to protect the least among us (the most vulnerable) from abuse. Reading it is a good prelude to taking the "Protecting Children from Abuse" training module.
A Code to Live By: Childcare Code of Conduct
The kernel of this downloadable PDF is a pledge form to be read and signed by every worker in the church (staff or volunteer) who works with children. Before the pledge itself is a brief explanation of the Code. The Code begins with, "Never harm, or allow to be harmed, children, either physically or mentally."
Protect My Ministry
Protect My Ministry is a business that was founded to help churches and other Christian ministries screen applicants to work as staff or volunteers and those already working. Sheepdog Church Security has an affiliate relationship with Protect My Ministry through which a church or Christian ministry can sign up.
The Need to Screen
When considering applicants for a Church Safety Team, they must meet certain qualifications, some general and some specific for the position. The general qualifications are based on the biblical qualifications for bishops/pastors, elders, and deacons (1 Tim. 3:2-12 and Titus 1:5-9).
General qualifications also apply to church leaders, such as elders, pastors and bishops, youth leaders, and deacons. These general qualifications are primarily measures of character: spirituality, integrity, morality, and self-control. Character is also critical for certain staff and volunteer positions in the congregation, including elected and appointed positions such as board members, treasurer, accountant, office manager, teachers, and childcare workers.
The Church Safety Director and a few aides can basically screen the backgrounds of candidates for the Church Safety Team, but who will screen all the others working in the church who should be screened? Not only this, but what if the record of an offense becomes available for background checks after the applicant has been screened? What if disqualifying activity commenced after the person began working in the church? Could your church find out soon enough to avoid an unfortunate situation?
On the record, there have been and are many, many unfortunate situations. Some religious groups have had underlying problems with sexual abuse for decades, even centuries. Often there has been a lack of effective oversight in this area where the offenses of insiders are overlooked or excused while those of the general population are punished.
This goes back even farther than the sins of Eli's sons (1 Sam. 2:22). Many times leaders are blindsided by offenders who manage to keep their deeds hidden, who, as Jude said, "crept in unawares" (Jude v. 4). This leaves them stunned when a scandal erupts. The ministry can be damaged many ways by this, with lawsuits, criminal charges, loss of membership, and loss of respect in the community. So how can a ministry protect itself? Is there help?
Help Is Here
The mission of Protect My Ministry (PMM) is "to safeguard children in churches across the country." This is done by providing a better level of screening than the church itself can do. Not only this, but having an outside agency conduct the screening will avoid potential bias or favoritism by anyone in the congregation.
A Program That Fits
Churches differ in size, age distribution, social factors, economic situation, local setting, etc. Protect My Ministry consults with each member church or ministry to put together the right program for them. The banner menu on the PMM website is Background Checks, Ministry Mobilizer (All-In-One Solution), Resources, Company, Safety Rocket, and Blog.
Ministry Mobilizer (All-In-One Solution) is a brief review of PMM services. A one-sentence summary says,
"Protect My Ministry is a full service background screening company that offers volunteer based organizations a one-stop-shop for background checks, paperless solutions, and child safety training."
It goes on to outline these three services, then has brief descriptions of Deeply Discounted Pricing For Ministries, Time Saving Online Application and Authorization, Simplified Screening Program Management, Online Consultation to Help You Select the Right Screening, Re-Verification of National Criminal Records for Industry Compliance, and Integration with Your Church Management System.
Besides the normal criminal background checks, PMM's Background Checks include:
- Continuous Monitoring
- Church Screening
- Volunteer Screening
- Social Intelligence
- Individual Services
- Online Consultation
- Personal Background Checks
Let's look at four of these:
When a background check is conducted on an applicant, it only finds what is in the available databases at that time. Existing records may be added later as states and localities enter them into the county, state, and national databases. For example, the criminal background checks for gun purchases may fail because of omitted information.
Here is a case in point related to church security: The Sutherland Springs church shooter was able to pass background checks and buy guns and ammo because the Air Force failed to report his convictions for domestic violence to the FBI.
Likewise, a conviction for sexual abuse, embezzlement, or violence could be missing from the databases during the background check for a youth leader, office manager, or Safety Team member. Also, incidents may occur and judgments may be made after the initial background check.
Protect My Ministry performs Continuous Monitoring to be alerted to any changes in a person's background check, whether this is updating of information or new incidents. This is especially important, because some crimes, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, and embezzlement, can continue for many years before law enforcement is involved and it enters public records.
Most people now use social media of some kind. The most used ones are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn, and there are newer platforms appearing such as Parler. Not everyone is careful of what they post on most of these sites. What people post - words, pictures, videos - says something about their character. PMM checks social media to see what a candidate or worker is posting and which pages/sites they are following.
Some positions in a Christian ministry require special scrutiny. These include pastors, treasurers, school teachers and administrators, vehicle drivers, and corporate officers, among others. The items searched are particular for the individual person and the position. They could be any of the following:
- Credit History Report
- Motor Vehicle History Report
- National Criminal and OFAC Search
- Nationwide Sex Offender Search
- County Criminal Records Search
- Statewide Criminal Records Search
- District Federal Criminal Records
- Drug Screening & MRO
- Verification Services
- Employment Verification
- Education Verification
- Professional Reference
- Professional License Verification
Anyone who has done a free or inexpensive online people search on themselves knows that someone else can be mistaken for them. This makes it uncertain whether the information about someone is really for the person you're checking. Most people understand that you can find trainloads of persons with some common names, such as Tom Brown, Judy Johnson, and John Smith, busloads of not-as-common names, and car loads of several others. You may even find duplicates of very uncommon names.
This is something that PMM understands very well. They re-verify all information they find to be certain whether it is of the person they are checking. There are cases of persons being arrested, sued, or denied a loan because they had the same name as someone else. Re-verification within a certain time is actually an industry standard for background checking services. If damaging information (a "hit") is found, PMM takes 24 to 48 hours to re-verify.
On the other hand, the re-verification process may reveal that someone is using name changes or variations to avoid detection.
There are several resources available from PMM. These include compliance documents for the Federal Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) and for several states' credit reporting laws.
Just so you understand what you read, there are explanations of Compliance & General Background Screening Terms, Criminal & Legal Terms, and Drug Screening Terms.
They also have sample background reports so you can see what they look like and familiarize yourself with evaluating the information in the report.
Who Uses Protect My Ministries?
It is not just individual churches, Christian schools, and Christian ministries that use Protect My Ministry. There are five large denominations which employ PMM as well as some mega-churches and international ministries. This is not counting numerous medium-large to small congregations.
ADF Church Alliance
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) works with PMM to defend of churches through the ADF Church Alliance.
Why this alliance?
Screening uncovers many things about applicants, including actions and lifestyles considered immoral by many churches. (Frankly, some of the data may indicate an increased likelihood for sexual abuse.) When a church denies employment based on moral grounds, especially if there is no criminal record, there is increasingly the possibility of being sued for discrimination based on the applicant being a member of a protected class. Lawsuits are expensive, especially for defendants.
ADF exists to defend persons and organizations who are being sued or criminally charged for actions grounded in their religious beliefs and convictions.
There are fifteen integrated preferred partners with Protect My Ministry. These are various services that member churches can use. According to PMM, "Our Preferred Partners make working with Protect My Ministry even easier." Most of these provide church management software. Other partners provide resources for children's ministries. Others are insurance companies or denominations.
Your church, Christian school, or Christian ministry can sign up with Protect My Ministry as an affiliate of Sheepdog Church Security. In addition to the screening and other services, the Safety Member Certification training in "Protecting Children from Abuse" can be augmented with PMM's "Child Safety Training for Abuse and Prevention."
Protect My Ministry provides screening of applicants which is more thorough than churches themselves can conduct.
There Is More
This is a three-part series on protecting children from abuse. The other two articles are "Wolves and Lambs" (Threats to Our Children) and "Keeping the Door" (Guarding the Lambs).
- Kris Moloney, "Protecting Children from Abuse v4," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/].
- Kris Moloney, "Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/child-and-vulnerable-adults/].
- Kris Moloney, "A Code to Live By," Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2018 [https://sheepdog-church-security.ck.page/f512da9e07].
- Sheepdog Church Security sign-up link, Protect My Ministry, 2021 [https://protectmyministry.com/sheepdog-signup/].
- Katie Mettler and Alex Horton, "Air Force failed 6 times to keep guns from Texas church shooter before he killed 26, report finds," Washington Post, December 7, 2018 [https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2018/12/08/air-force-failed-six-times-keep-guns-texas-church-shooter-before-he-killed-report-finds/].