Protecting Your Ministry

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In our current cultural and political climate, a lot of uncertainty exists when it comes to religious freedom. As an employer, make sure you are taking these practical steps to best protect your ministry.

1. Create and maintain consistent documentation of your ministry’s beliefs, policies, and culture by developing a statement of beliefs.

Establishing a standard across the organization helps current and prospective employees, as well as church members, know the deeply held beliefs that drive your ministry’s decisions and policies.

Once your statement of beliefs and policies are written and agreed upon, broadly distribute them to your staff as the foundation that helps drive decision-making. Your statement of beliefs can have an impact on many decisions your ministry makes, including:

  • Recruitment
  • Job postings
  • Onboarding
  • Coaching
  • Giving feedback
  • Termination

2. Use your statement of beliefs to guide the development of an employee handbook.

No matter the size, every ministry organization needs an employee handbook to communicate the policies and expectations of your ministry as a workplace. Creating and distributing an employee handbook can help protect your church and ministry from potential disputes. By clearly and comprehensively documenting the rules and the consequences, you allow disciplinary measures to be a matter of your ministry’s policies rather than a seemingly personal decision. Creating structure and consistency in the onboarding, offboarding and daily operations of your ministry environment will likely be an investment with high return.

3. Review your employee handbook at least every two years.

Meet with your managers and team to talk through the handbook, mentioning how it specifically applies to them and citing examples of handling tricky situations. Discuss and determine if additional policies should be added or if existing policies should be updated.

Not sure where to start? Review these policy and procedures templates provided by Brotherhood Mutual®.

4. Conduct regular employee performance evaluations.

Create a process with consistent benchmarks across all employee reviews to be used over the years and ask managers to document everything in their evaluations, both positive and negative. Thorough documentation can help protect your ministry in the event of any legal action.

5. Proactively seek sound legal counsel.

Having a trusted attorney or advisor privy to your operational and legal conversations will help your ministry understand new laws and any resulting requirements. They can help shape policies and procedures and evaluate them at least annually.

  • We understand that not every church has the budget for an attorney or legal advisor. However, find out if other cost-effective options are available to your ministry, such as a willing church member with a legal background or looking into a pro-bono legal service in your area.
  • Consider Legal Assist through Brotherhood Mutual, a free legal response service staffed by their in-house attorneys. They provide complimentary risk management guidance in response to your questions about legal issues, including safety and security, contracts, religious freedom and more.

6. Ensure you have the right liability coverage in the event legal action is ever taken against your ministry.

Choosing an insurance provider who understands and provides religious freedom and protection liability coverage can help protect your ministry from specific issues that your ministry may face.

We designed these resources to empower your ministry and its people to stay protected. If you have any further questions about how to protect your ministry, feel free to reach out to a GuideStone® team member today at (214) 720-2868, and they'll be glad to help. With GuideStone on your side, your ministry can manage risks while focusing on spreading the good news.

Continue Learning About Religious Freedom and Your Ministry

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