Protecting Your Children

Feb 13, 2019

A series of articles in the Houston Chronicle in February 2019 focused on sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention. The stories are heartbreaking, the acts conducted by the abusers are pure evil, and the questions raised are numerous.

Among the questions people might have are those focused on what their own churches are doing to protect children from potential harm. This is never a topic to address one time and consider it resolved. Rather, it must be an ongoing conversation as churches continually adapt to new challenges. For example, churches were not talking about the role of social media ten years ago as they wrote policies and guidelines for staff members and volunteers working with children and students.

Our Process & Policies

At Houston's First Baptist Church, a thorough selection process is in place for would-be staff members and volunteers wanting to serve with children ages 18 and under — whether full-time or part-time, on an ongoing basis or for a short-term project. Once selected, they are trained for their particular area of service, including on our church's Child Protection Policy.

Staff Members

Potential employees at Houston's First undergo a multi-step process before being selected and hired by the church. The documented Potential Employee Search Procedures spell out the process to ensure consistency among applicants. The process includes:

  • Completing a Houston's First Baptist Church Application for Employment form
    • Includes education history, employment history, personal references, and more
    • Asks, "Have you ever been accused or convicted of a felony or sexual abuse?" and if so, provide an explanation
  • Being interviewed
  • Contacting references

Candidates still under consideration after these steps continue the process by:

  • Reviewing Houston's First Baptist Church's Code of Integrity document
  • Reviewing the church's core theology as presented in the Baptist Faith & Message
  • Completing a PLACE assessment
  • Submitting to a background check (only if a job offer is extended to the candidate)

Upon successful completion of this process — accompanied by prayer along the way — the hiring staff member contacts the candidate to confirm the employment start date.

Volunteers

Volunteers play vital roles throughout the ministry of Houston's First, especially within our NextGen Ministry — serving preschoolers, children, students (ages 18 and under), and adults with special needs. Whether a volunteer wants to teach a NextGen Life Bible Study every Sunday, serve one time at Vacation Bible School for a few days in the summer, or go on a short-term mission trip scheduled to serve children, applicants go through the following process before they are cleared to serve:

  • Complete an Interest Form
  • Submit to a background check (adults only)
    • Background checks are updated every 5 years if the individual continues to serve
  • Complete the NextGen Volunteer Application Form

Once individuals are approved to volunteer, the respective ministry trains them for their roles and reviews the Child Protection Policy in detail.



Counseling Center

The Julianna Poor Memorial Counseling Center at Houston's First provides biblically-based, clinically-competent, and Spirit-sensitive counseling promoting the emotional, psychological, and spiritual health of individuals, marriages, and families.

Available at The Loop, Cypress, and Sienna Campuses, the Counseling Center is open to church members and non-members alike. The counselors are either licensed by the State of Texas, in the process of completing state requirements, or in their Master’s level work. Among the services they provide are:

  • Individual & Couples Counseling
  • Family Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Support Groups
  • Retreats
  • Intensives

If you or someone you know could benefit from counseling services, contact our Counseling Center at 713.335.6462 to learn more, ask questions, and make an appointment.


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