Few of us admit that we actually enjoy studying and learning.  Yet, having an opinion that is founded in real facts is an exciting experience.  Some facts are learned in books; others are learned from junkets into real life.

Last night several speakers at the disability conference held at Northland Church in Orlando met for a dinner of fellowship and to learn from each other.  Yes, we discussed facts and figures of ministry.  Slowly, the conversation melted into fun and laughter, comparing notes of foibles and misadventures that we all experience.  Things that we will all try to avoid. 

Part of the serious discussion had revolved around liability.  How far do we  take this looming threat?  When does legitimate concern before fear?  One ministry head quoted Nehemiah.  He said, “It is important to guard the walls and pray.”  He believes that his job as head of a ministry is to guard against ruinous events that could take down a ministry and pray for God’s protection. 

Until I was heading a ministry, I must admit that I was on the side of the argument that his actions were over zealous.  However, a few weeks after I took the reigns of SpG of Indian River, Inc., I understood his zeal.  When it is your members, you want to do everything you can to safeguard their safety.  When it is your ministry, you become aware that maintaining the longevity of what God has called you to do is essential.   Lastly, your reputation and, therefore, your ministry and your members are put at risk without these safeguards.

True, there were a couple of hours of laughter.  But in the silence of my ride home, I pondered what I had learned.  The most important thing was a fortressing of the overarching need for protection in libelous areas. 

What about you?  Do you feel that risk managements is folly?  Or do you side with a zealous proactive approach?  Perhaps you are somewhere between.  Have you thought about why you have taken this position?  Share with us.

As our society evolves, one of the biggest things to change in the church world has been insurance and liability.  There was a time when churches wouldn’t think of having liability insurance.  If you did have such a policy, it was cheaper than dirt for congregations.  You were trusted and there was the assumption that good church people would never sue their congregations or pastors.  There was the assumption (and statistics bore these assumptions out) that you would not be sued by an outside person. Sexual misconduct was not an issue for various reason. (Those reasons aren’t  the purpose of this entry.)   

In this litigious world, all that has changed.  Yes, it is still much less expensive to insure a pastor than a doctor.  Yet, no church or parachurch ministry should be without insurance.  And no ministry can afford to not think in terms of liability.  If, like The Special Gathering, you don’t own any property, you may feel that you are exempt from the need of this additional expense.  That is a false conclusion.

Working with a vulnerable population, a ministry within the mentally challenged community must be as “wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove” in regards to liability issues.  Whenever you take a group of people to camp or a retreat where there may be risk involved, you should be sure that your insurance covers the event. 

Each year, The Special Gathering takes our members to Camp/Retreat Agape.  It is a four day, three night event.  The contract with the campground we rent is not valid until they have received our Certificate of Insurance, listing them as “additional insured.”  The golf cart company will not allow us to rent carts without this assurance from our insurance company.

In a way, this is an inexpensive safeguard for your members, volunteers and staff.  At The Special Gathering, we have been blessed with an executive director who has traveled far ahead of the curve in regard to these issues. 

Be sure that you and your ministry have the additional safeguard of good insurance.  We have found that GuideOne has been a good company.  There are a lot of other insurance companies who carry excellent liability policies.  Do you research, bite the bullet and get insurance.

What are some of the things you feel are needed in an insurance policy?  If you don’t have liability insurance, is there a reason?