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Volunteering at church

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  • Volunteering at church

    Preface: I agree that a church should take necessary steps to protect children and young adults from abuse. In fact, any church should take efforts to prevent any form of abuse and report it when it comes to the church's attention.

    My wife and I just started going to a new church earlier this year. When I expressed interest in volunteering, I was given the new volunteer package. In all the years of church going, I've never seen anything this extensive.

    What I was given was a multiple page handout prepared by a legal office. The actual volunteer application is 4 pages long (yes, there is generous white space for answers) and includes the usual name and address, criminal background, license information if you want to drive the church van, and references. In fact, on the top of the first page, it explicitly states this is not an employment application.

    My problem is the church made the sweeping generalization that all its ministries are children/youth ministries. While I can complete most of the form, I can't give any references (both professional and personal) because the references must explicitly "must have seen you work with minors and be able to speak to your ability to serve young people." There go any professional references as I work in a back office where young people don't come. Since I've never done youth or children's ministry, I have no volunteer contacts to use either. I'm done.

    While I can commend the church for their diligence, it's disappointing that there is no alternative for someone like me who has no interest in children's or youth ministry. As much as I would like to volunteer at my church, I can't. They have closed that door on me.

    Someone did mention to me they've done this program for about 12 years now. What do you think: am I overreacting or did the church overreact?
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

  • #2
    One word: Grace.

    It sounds like the 'volunteer division' was created by lawyers. While I'm all for having lawyers advise us, they will often have to take a back seat to "doing ministry".

    We have, as one of our ministries "Car Clinic" - twice a year, spring and fall, we set aside a Saturday where people can bring their cars, and we'll do a free inspection of tires, belts, hoses, and adjust fluids - brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, transmission fluid, blinker fluid (both right and left) and give them a coupon for a free oil change at a local dealership. This is a great opportunity to involve men (in particular, but not only men) who like working on cars, but are not necessarily spiritually motivated or connected. We even had a convicted felon helping us one year.

    While we are, indeed, a tad fussy about people who work with our children, we are quite accepting of volunteers who want to mow the lawn, clean up the yard, pressure wash the sidewalks, change the batteries in smoke detectors, etc...

    Yeah, it sounds like they may be a little over the top on restricting volunteers.
    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

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    • #3
      I'd just fill out the form as best you can and explain why you can't do the rest. Turn it in like that. It's up to the church if they want to use you in some capacity.
      Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

      Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
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      I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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      • #4
        Maybe some scandal happened in the past and they are "gun shy?"

        I would just write what you said here in the space asking for references, that you don't work with children and you have no interest in doing so at the church. They probably just have a "one form fits all" thing going and would ignore not having such references for jobs not involving children.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Sparko View Post
          Maybe some scandal happened in the past and they are "gun shy?"

          I would just write what you said here in the space asking for references, that you don't work with children and you have no interest in doing so at the church. They probably just have a "one form fits all" thing going and would ignore not having such references for jobs not involving children.
          True. However, they did declare that all ministries at that church are children's ministry. For example, if they had a senior ministry, it would still be considered children's ministry.

          I agree that I think there was some form of a scandal in the past and this is a reaction to it.
          "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

          "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
            I'd just fill out the form as best you can and explain why you can't do the rest. Turn it in like that. It's up to the church if they want to use you in some capacity.
            I understand your point. Unfortunately, this is a very legal document (it was prepared by a law office) and that makes me very wary about signing it. Especially since at the end there is a statement about consulting with an attorney before signing it.
            "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

            "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks everyone for responding. At least I don't feel that my concerns are way out of bounds. I'm going to return it uncompleted Sunday and see what happens.
              "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

              "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                Thanks everyone for responding. At least I don't feel that my concerns are way out of bounds. I'm going to return it uncompleted Sunday and see what happens.
                I would be wary that the Church is too legalistic in other areas too. Be careful.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sparko View Post

                  I would be wary that the Church is too legalistic in other areas too. Be careful.
                  I haven't seen other signs of legalism there but thanks for the warning. I will be wary.
                  "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                  "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The church wants you to consult with a lawyer before volunteering?
                    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                      The church wants you to consult with a lawyer before volunteering?
                      They advise it before signing their volunteer application form.
                      "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                      "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post

                        They advise it before signing their volunteer application form.
                        I would argue this in principle runs up against James' view of the rich and the poor worshiping side by side, because the poor cannot afford an attorney to begin with.
                        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I returned the form left blank today. The person (board president) I returned it to asked if I really had no children's ministry experience and I said yes. He talked to some other people and then came back to say be patient. They may be working on a process for people who don't want to be involved with children's ministry to still be able to volunteer. We'll see. Since it's the holiday season, I'm not expecting anything further until next year.
                          "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

                          "Theology can be an intellectual entertainment." Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
                            I returned the form left blank today. The person (board president) I returned it to asked if I really had no children's ministry experience and I said yes. He talked to some other people and then came back to say be patient. They may be working on a process for people who don't want to be involved with children's ministry to still be able to volunteer. We'll see. Since it's the holiday season, I'm not expecting anything further until next year.
                            I would put you to work like a red-headed stepchild!
                            The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                            Comment

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