Jesus said, “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.”  Matthew 10:16 The Message

Risk Management

Below is the Powerpoint presentation from the May 20, 2014 Church Risk Management Seminar

Church Risk Management Presentation-4 (05 19 14)

Develop a Crisis Management Plan

  • Develop a crisis management plan to cover incidents, i.e. media coverage, family, etc.
  • The majority of insurance companies offer training guidelines/procedures on their web sites. Check with your insurance company.
  • is a good resource
  • Make sure you get your insurance company involved as soon as possible.

Child Abuse/Neglect

  • Under Texas law churches have a duty to provide a safe place
  • Child Abuse, child neglect, and the duty to report are defined in the Church Risk Management Presentation above
  • Every church should have a Child Abuse/Neglect Prevention Policy. Volunteers/employees should know who to call if something happens. If something happens on site, is there a procedure of how to deal with employees and parents? Anything said to a parent/employee is admissible in court. This should be a part of the Child Abuse/Neglect Prevention Policy.
  • Background checks should be performed on all employees and volunteers who work with children 18 and under BEFORE they are allowed to act on behalf of the church.
  • Always have 2 adults in a room with children, never an adult by themselves. What about spouses working together? You may want a third adult with them for their protection from a common sense point of view.
  • Have open space, windows, etc. where what is going on can be observed.
  • How often should background checks be done? Weigh the legal risks against the cost of background checks. In dealing with children a background check should be done every year.
  • Do training annually. Have a permanent confidential file to document background checks and training.

Background Check Resources

Copyright Issues

  • Copyright law, penalties, and suggested solution/resources are given in the Church Risk Management Presentation above.
  • Recommend having a centralized place for approval BEFORE anyone in the church uses the material.
  • Check your insurance policy for copyright coverage. Specific coverage for copyright issues can be obtained.
  • Obtain permission from the copyright holder or obtain a copyright license. Have an attorney check the copyright license for coverage.
  • Make sure the song or movie is in the catalog of the copyright provider.

Church Liability

  • Church liability definition, negligence causes of action, and suggested solutions are given in the Church Risk Management Presentation above.
  • Make sure your insurance covers international mission trips.
  • Make sure you have records documenting driving records of drivers.
  • Have a routine schedule of safety audits of church grounds, facilities, and equipment.

Charitable Immunity

  • Charitable immunity protects volunteers from liability UNLESS there is a criminal act or intentionally neglectful.
  • The Federal Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 is defined in the Church Risk Management Presentation above.
  • Churches have to comply with federal law. Have a policy for progressive discipline. Make sure the church follows what the bylaws require. Be proactive.


  • Risks, risk management process and techniques are defined in the Church Risk Management Presentation above.
  • Types of insurance policies and exclusions are defined in the Risk Management Presentation above.
  • Cyber liability/privacy issues are becoming more important with internet exposure. There is a requirement to report breaches if there is a release of non-public data. Insurance will cover if the system is breached and data stolen.
  • Employment related practices risk insurance covers discrimination issues.
  • International/foreign liability policy covers the church’s responsibility. This is different from an international travel policy.
  • Each insurance company writes their own sexual abuse policy. An occurrence policy covers any occurrence that happens in that policy year regardless of when the occurrence is reported. There could be a retroactive date.
  • Professional liability covers the pastor for giving alleged wrong advice.
  • Directors and officers liability covers your board.
  • Bylaws should be updated to include an indemnity clause. Bylaws define who the directors and officers are.


  • Anytime you change your trustees, incorporation papers, you need to notify the Secretary of State.