Safe Sanctuaries in a Small Church

Does this statement sound familiar to you? “I’m a part of a small church, and we all know each other, so we don’t need all of those Safe Sanctuaries rules.”

I know when my husband has served small churches, it has felt like a huge weight to have Safe Sanctuaries policies. Sometimes many members have been related. In small towns it seems like everyone knows everyone else who comes to church. Although it may seem like a mountain to climb when developing such policies in a small church, it is helpful to look at them as safety plans.

One seemingly steep part of the mountain is the recommended screening and supervision of those who will be working with children, youth, and vulnerable adults. Having screening policies in place ensures that everyone is receiving the safest care while at church or ministering to those in the community. There are several simple background check options on the West Ohio Conference website. Supervision may be as simple as ensuring there is always another volunteer available and within eye or ear shot of a group.

Safe Sanctuaries policies not only show that churches care for children, youth, and vulnerable adults. They also keep those serving these populations safe as well. If you need more information, contact us at SafeSanctuaries [at]

Lauren Burns is an occupational therapist who works in a skilled nursing facility near Columbus, Ohio. She has a passion for connecting children, youth, and vulnerable adults to worship in meaningful ways. She and her husband, Andy (a provisional elder), have two fur children.