NASHVILLE (BP) – Nearly half of the background checks requested by churches through LifeWay's program with backgroundchecks.com reveal some type of criminal offense.
Most of those are minor incidents such as speeding tickets, but 21 percent of inquiries discovered misdemeanors or more serious crimes, LifeWay's Jennie Taylor said.
Since 2008, when LifeWay began its relationship with backgroundchecks.com, more than 11,300 churches and religious organizations have conducted nearly 230,000 background checks using the program. In the past year, more than 2,100 churches have signed up through the LifeWay ONESource program.
CrossPointe Fellowship in Holmes Beach, Fla., has been using backgroundchecks.com for five years. Sandy Watts, ministry assistant at the church, said, "We feel it is vital to be able to assure parents who entrust their children to us that the adults caring for and supervising their children are safe and have a clear background."
Watts said most of their checks returned clear, but the few that have been flagged allowed church leadership to talk more deeply with the individuals and sometimes suggest other areas of the church that might be better suited for their service.
Chris Smith, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Beckley, W.Va., said his church began using the service last year to screen volunteers for their AWANA clubs and the congregation was "eager to participate."
"We wanted to make sure the children are safe and the parents can have confidence in our volunteer staff," he said. "Having the information available to the leadership has given folks a greater sense of safety for the children, the youth and adults."