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Jun 05
2007
CEN

The Risk of Doing Ministry

Posted by: CEN

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A senior pastor once asked me, “How do I prevent all risks associated with ministry?”   I replied, “Lock the door and stop being the church.”   Anytime we unlock the doors of our church, risk is attached to it.   You simply cannot do ministry without some risk.

A senior pastor once asked me, “How do I prevent all risks associated with ministry?”   I replied, “Lock the door and stop being the church.”   Anytime we unlock the doors of our church, risk is attached to it.   You simply cannot do ministry without some risk. 

However, some church leaders think that as long as they have insurance, they are adequately managing their risk.   Again, this is flawed thinking.   So what is a church leader to do?

 

The idea, then, is to find a balance between throwing caution to the wind and just charging headlong into ministry and being paranoid and paralyzed from doing ministry thinking something bad will happen.

 

Those who have taken the basics of risk management understand the techniques available that can assist an organization in managing risks.   Applying these techniques specifically to churches and religious organizations, this is what they might look like:

 

Avoid the risk

   

Yes, there are some risks that are just too great.   Though they might sound fun, exciting, and a good chance to do outreach, after consideration, someone in the organization must have the fortitude to decide, “The reward is just not worth the risk.”    These conclusions should be made after careful discussion with leadership and consultation with your insurance agent.   In some cases, churches have found out that they did not have coverage for a particular event only after they had an accident.

 

Reduce the risk

   

Another technique is to consider the event, discuss it, and then seek ways to minimize the risks associated with it.   For instance, instead of using a rope to rappel off of the church steeple under the watchful eye of the youth pastor, the leadership, after consulting with their insurance agent and professionals may decide to have a professionally trained person with proper equipment come to the church to oversee the event.   A wide variety of safe practices are available for nearly every activity.

 

Retain the risk

 

The church leaders may decide that there is a risk but it is one worth taking based on the return.   In this case, they may choose to set aside reserve funding to ensure that if anything happens during the event, they would be able to pay for it.   This does not mean that they would still not seek to reduce the risks associated with the event, but would choose to retain the risk and price for it.

The church leaders may decide that there is a risk but it is one worth taking based on the return.   In this case, they may choose to set aside reserve funding to ensure that if anything happens during the event, they would be able to pay for it.   This does not mean that they would still not seek to reduce the risks associated with the event, but would choose to retain the risk and price for it.

 

Share the risk

   

Though nearly all churches have insurance, many will also set funds aside to pay for their deductibles or take care of smaller claims and issues.   Some churches will choose to lower their premiums by having a higher deductible.   Further, some will choose to join a pool of churches in an effort to spread the risk out and keep premiums down.

 

Transfer the risk

   

The final technique is to transfer the risk to someone else.   Let’s say a contractor is coming to your facility to upgrade you education wing or do some other work.   You should seek to obtain a certificate of insurance naming your organization as an additional insured.   This way, though a risk may exist and a claim may even happen, you are seeking another party to be responsible for covering it.

 

Having insurance alone is an incomplete approach to risk management.   Church leaders should become aware of the language an options available to them.   By practicing these techniques, a church may not only reduce the possibility of something bad happening, but will be much better insulated if a claim is filed.   Doing so can help preserve ministry and keep a church focused on its primary mission.


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