The Heart of the Church Experience
Why do people come to the Church? Hopefully, it is to experience the meaningful message and the chance to fellowship with other Believers. But, many people expect more from the Church than just services. In particular, they want instructive classes, fun activities, and personal attention including counseling. Does your Church meet these needs? Is there accountability for making sure these activities are handled properly? Is the Church protected? Is the Church staff protected from personal liability claims?
In particular, aside from claims against the Church based upon allegations of child abuse, the other most common source for church liability claims is with pastoral counseling. These claims most frequently spring from marriage counseling and are based upon allegations that the pastoral staff was alone with the counseling recipient and that something improper occurred.
Does your Church sponsor sporting activities or adult trips or outings? If so, this is another area of potential liability.
Seven Questions about your Adult Ministry:
- As a matter of stated policy, do you offer pastoral counseling or does it just tend to happen on a case-by-case basis?
- Does your Church have effective procedures to reduce or eliminate claims of inappropriate conduct related to pastoral counseling?
- Can you prove that the church member knew the Church was providing spiritual counseling and not psychological or psychiatric therapy?
- Does the church insurance cover the counseling or other activities of the Church? Some jurisdictions have some immunity from personal liability if the church maintains certain kinds or levels of insurance.
- If an adult is injured while on a church activity, could he/she bring a liability claim against the Church?
- What are the activities of the Church? Does the staff know of every activity and how it is conducted?
- Does the Church use volunteers to help provide these services? How were these people selected or supervised?