Ministry Brands, the leading provider of church management software solutions, recently released data showing mainline Protestant and Evangelical churches are utilizing background checks at an increasing rate. Of the over 30,000 churches that have partnered with Protect My Ministry, a Ministry Brands company, background checks on church employees and volunteers have increased by 12% year-over-year.

Critical gaps remain in churches performing background checks on their volunteers. Data spanning 29,768 churches and ministries, representing more than 1.6 million individual background checks, shows that just 60% of churches are utilizing background checks with the proper level of advanced searches that employ multiple real-time sources of data and thorough alias searches.

This leaves 40% of churches using a screening product that potentially could result in allowing a bad actor to infiltrate the church. Additionally, the data shows that less than 10% of churches are actively rescreening their volunteers and staff annually. In comparison, Ministry Brands found that youth sports and little league teams recheck 99% of staff and volunteers every single year.

Here is a helpful infographic with the stats:

As one of the most prominent background screening platforms in the U.S., the data shows that churches are more engaged than ever before in having their volunteers and staff background checked. But it’s not enough given what our communities are facing,” said Josh Weis, executive vice president, Ministry Brands. “Church leaders and congregants may be operating with a false sense of security with the perception all background checks are equal in their depth. We advocate that church leaders educate themselves to better understand that checking a single name or simply running an applicant through a criminal database is not enough. Depending on the state, these lower level screens can be equivalent to merely Googling a name.”

Not all background checks are created equal

Key facts about background checks:

  • The National Sex Offender Registry is frequently checked as part of most background screenings.  While it’s important to run applicants through the registry, be advised it may not report every qualifying sex offender, as there is a component of offender participation that is frequently subverted.
  • Both the National Sex Offender Registry and National Criminal Database searches are not updated in real time. The only real-time data comes directly from counties and requires a deeper background search.
  • Aliases tied to social security numbers are a critical must-have on all background checks conducted, given the overwhelming prevalence of falsified applicant information.
  • The quality of data varies greatly on a state-by-state basis. In states with poor data collection, churches will need to invest in deeper background search products to generate results that are on par with less expensive searches in states with better data protocols.

Education Resources

Protect My Ministry’s Background Check Blueprint summarizes the role, application, and depth of background checks. Click here to get the guide and learn more about total church safety and how your ministry can proactively safeguard its members and families.