Looking at Background Check Options

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

In January,  Pat had a really great post, "Why I Don't Like Having So Much Security at Church." I really resonated with this blog. I am generally a trusting person. I want to think the best in people. I really dislike beginning relationships with a background check. But this is a reality in which we all live now. Unfortunately, we can not go purely with the outward appearance. We do not know what is in a person’s heart. One of the tools at our disposal to get a glimpse of a person’s past actions are background checks.

I understand that we all make poor choices and mistakes in our lives. We are not the same people that made those poor decisions and mistakes in the past. These past choices are a part of who we are and should be considered as people serve with children. There are plenty of opportunities to serve the church and it may not be the wisest decision for some people to serve with kids. Background checks are a way to seek wisdom in protecting the kids of our church.

Background checks are important but where do I start? My hope is that most churches today are already using background checks to keep their kids safe. If you are at a church htat does not currently have a policy of using background checks, prayerfully consider and speak with leaders of your church to implement this policy. The first church at which I served didn't use background checks, and it became clear that I needed to move our church in that direction. There were people on our ministry team that had a difficult time transitioning to the idea.  You may be like that church and have faithful servants who have been serving for years. When you ask them to fill out a background check, it can be received as insulting. You need to help your team understand the vision for running background checks is not to question their character, and it does not reflect on how they have served in the past. Rather, the vision is  establish a culture of safety. This is one of the first steps to keeping our kids safe.

The next step after adopting a background check policy is to choose a company with whom to partner. If you Google background checks, you will see right away that you have a number of options to choose from.

Today, I am going to give some questions you should consider when choosing a background check company. 

  1. What is my budget? How much can I spend per background check? On how many people will I need to run background checks? You will need a larger budget to run everyone's initial check. Then you will need to figure how many new volunteers will you add each month.

  2. How will I collect volunteers' private information securely? There are multiple ways to do this. Many companies offer a secure web option which allows you to give a link to volunteers--usually for an additional cost.

  3. What kind of background check should I run? There are several options--State criminal records, federal criminal records, national sex offender registry, etc. The more detailed the report, the more expensive it will be. You will need to decide on what is the best option for your church.

  4. What other services does each company offer with each background check? Some of the companies offer various kinds of training along with their background check services.

Here are four companies you should consider as you are looking: 

What background check company does your church use? How did you come to the decision?