What are churches’ legal obligations for child check-in?

This comes with a MASSIVE disclaimer… this is NOT legal advice.

Here’s what I’ve worked out so far…

  • Education and Care Services National Regulations (Regulation 158.1) require that education and care service providers “must ensure that a record of attendance is kept for the service that, (a) records the full name of each child attending the service; and (b) records the date and time each child arrives and departs; and (c) is signed by one of the following persons at the time that the child arrives and departs; (i) the person who delivers the child to the education and care service premises or collects the child from the education and care service premises; or (ii) the nominated supervisor or an educator.”
  • However, the chances are that your church doesn’t need to follow these regulations because Section 5 of the
    Children (Education and Care Services) National Law excludes “a service principally conducted to provide instruction in a particular activity (e.g. religious instruction)”, and further excluded: “a services that provides education and care for no more than 4 weeks per calendar year during school holidays” (as defined in Regulation 5.2.i of the Education and Care Services National Regulations)
  • While that pretty much means you can come up with any check-in and check-out system you want, it would seem appropriate (looking at the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority Standard) to keep a mobile record of all children present at the current time to readily account for them all in the case of an emergency (e.g. fire, evacuation)

Reblog – Don’t confuse your church-support-network for your church-organisational-hierarchy

Christian brothers and sisters should invest relationally by encouraging each other, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking these “lines of encouragement” should be the organisational shape of your church.

Why? Because it leads to Catholic hierarchal pope-ism. It leads to thinking that this person who reads the bible with me and prays with me, he must be my authority in the church. But he’s not, he’s just a brother who reads the bible and prays with you – that’s what Christian brothers are meant to do to each other.

He might also be in authority over you in the church, and that might mean he’s great at encouraging you (as all those in authority in the church should be). But the two are complementary, not compulsory.
In Acts 2-3 there were 5000 Christians, and 12 in “authority”. Yet they all encouraged each other.

Reblog – Quality in ministry for good and bad reasons

Striving for doing things well (quality) is neither good or bad, but it can be done for good or bad reasons.

It’s not good to make things quality for quality’s sake. Neither to make you look impressive, or to make other people feel ashamed in comparison.

But it is good to do things quality because you love the people you’re doing it for. Quality, well rehearsed plans, and beauty are all ways of loving people. A quality sound system makes it easy to hear the speaker and avoids the ear-curdling squeaks. A quality welcoming process will always miss some people, but it will always help more people than a shoddy system.

Yes, some Christians and churches just seem to want to do things because they look cool. But maybe they’re not as shallow as you assume, maybe they just have a greater love for people than you’re aware of.

Reblog – Housework ministry

A church is a lot like a household (at least that’s one of the illustrations used the bible).

And a house needs a lot of work to work. Its not all fun and games, its not all dinners with friends or board games. It requires baking, shopping, cooking, cleaning, planning, dealing with unexpected issues.

I’m not saying these “church housework” things should become the focus – not at all. But they’re just as valuable as the focus things – because they exist for the sake of the focus things.

The danger is (on one hand) the person who says that these things aren’t important and should be ignored. And on the other hand, its a danger to say that these things need to be perfect, such that they become the focus.

I wonder how the people who express such extreemes run their own households? Maybe they’re just completely unaware of how much housework goes on for their little paradise to exist? Or maybe they never feel the housework is done “enough” to enjoy their household?

Categories for thinking about your church flock… (a.k.a. boxes to put people in)

Ok, I know that no-one – including myself – likes to be put in a box. When I take personality tests, I’m constantly trying to second guess what box they’re going to put me in and trying to offset that so I end up “un-boxable”. But, even with that in mind, it does help to have certain “non-ultimate” ways of knowing who’s around in your ministry. Here’s a few ideas:

“Crowd” – People who come irregularly, and for a variety of reasons (some good others not so good in your view) haven’t committed. They’re not really involved, they’re not in a group, they’re not keen to invite others along. They would probably call your church their church, but if everyone treated their church like that, you probably wouldn’t have a church.

“Community” – People who have committed to your church. They’ve made some type of intentioned decision to make the community of believers important and express that. They’d be giving financially, and they’d like to see their non-Christian friends come with them to meet Jesus at your church.

“Newish” – These are Christians (at least they’ve told you they’re Christians) who are new and so they’re not “Crowd” because they haven’t really had the chance to be lukewarm yet… and they’re not “Community” because they also haven’t really had the chance to faithfully express their intention to be part of the community. They could end up as one or the other… or neither and just leave.

“Non-Christian attenders” – Non-Christians who come along to church or other events your church puts on. They know that you know they’re a non-Christian, and they’re reasonably happy that you know that, and they don’t oppose the idea of you telling them they should stop being non-Christians.

“Non-Christian non-attenders” – this is everyone else in your parish/area/postcode/city. It’s the phonebook. They’re all part of your church too… just not in the way you’d like them to be… yet.

Why would you give a volunteer access to church data?

There’s a few things to think about before you give people access to contact details and other data.

  1. You’re not giving them access, you’re appointing them with responsibility.
    There are certain things people should do, and not do with private data. Access to data is not a right or a gift to use as they see fit. It’s a weighty responsibility they have to choose to take on. (We have volunteers sign a database privacy policy).
  2. If you’re appointing someone to a position of significant authority, it’s appropriate they have access to data.
    They might not need access to the database to fulfil their responsibilities, but the very fact they already have such responsibility means that access is appropriate. For example, our senior pastor rarely uses the database to do his job, but he has access.
  3. If someone’s smaller roll would be much, much easier with access to data, its loving to let them have it.
    There’s no point asking someone to organise a person from every growth group to be a contact person for a particular event, and then telling them they’ve got to find all those people the selves, or bounce that administrative hassle back to the growth group over seers. Administrators are great people to give access to the database.

A better illustration than “trellis & vine”

The “trellis & vine” is a really helpful illustration in some ways. It helps clarify the difference between word/disciple ministry and upkeep/admin ministry. You can’t have one with out the other… even meeting up 1:1 to read the bible requires organising a time, place, etc. That’s trellis work (not to mention it relies on heaps of past trellis work like bible translation, typesetting, publication, distribution).

Another illustration of ministry could be “the sickle & the harvest”. See, in order to collect a harvest, you could just use your hands. But it would take 100s of people and 100s of man hours. Or you could use some tools; a sickle, a bag, etc. They increase what you’re able to do. There’s a small cost… some sheaths will get missed, but not as many as if you did it by hand with the same number of people.

But you could also use a combine harvester. But that doesn’t mean you just need 1 worker (the driver). It means you’ll need most of your workers working on keeping the harvester going.

That’s what systems, structures and processes are to a church… every church has them and they are either reducing the number of people you can reach, or they’re reaching more people while letting some thru the cracks.

Few resources doesn’t mean lots of needs

People often get these two categories mixed up. Resources and Needs.

That is, they’ll see a church that doesn’t have many resources; it doesn’t have a youth worker, it doesn’t have many staff, it doesn’t have growth group leaders; scripture teachers, etc… and they’ll think that means that church has a huge NEED. In other words, what they mean is, that church NEEDS a youth worker, staff, group leaders, scripture teachers, etc.

Now, that church could probably use those things, but they are not NEEDS. They are simply STRUCTURES.

How do you determine a churches NEEDS? Look at the number of people in it. They are the NEEDS.

The larger the church, the greater the needs.

Remember you’re dealing with two worlds

Both worlds are connected, both worlds influence each other. God is sovereign over both, and he created both. But even so, be careful not to confuse these worlds or imagine links between them that aren’t there. I’m talking about the Spiritual world and the Fallen world. God is over both, but they are different worlds, and have different “rules”.

Stressed? Sick? Be very, very careful suggesting that is anything more than the effect of living in the fallen world. In fact, without a direct and specific word from God, I’d consider it downright dangerous to suggest they are Spiritual attacks.

Event or Ministry didn’t go well? Ok, there’s going to be elements of the fallen world in that, and elements of the Spiritual world in that. Don’t lump it all in either one or the other. Maybe you just didn’t plan or execute very well, or maybe Satan is hindering people coming along. Work on what you can work on, pray for it all. And then pray for everything you can’t influence.

The challenge is to keep all the options on the table and at the same time keep the spiritual things and the fallen things in separate piles.

Quality should be motivated by love

Some Christians just want quality for quality’s sake, or they think we need to match the world around us. Some Christians are wary of quality because they think its about manipulating feelings and that its all smoke a mirrors. But the true motivation for Christians and churches doing things well is love.

Doing things with a high degree of quality is part of making sure people don’t fall through the cracks. If you don’t welcome people to church “well” (read “with a certain degree of quality”) they won’t know how to connect. If you don’t run the Sunday meeting well, they won’t know what’s going on. If you don’t ask for feedback cards or follow them up, or run evangelistic courses well, people will fall through the cracks.

But some people will say something like, “But you don’t need to exert effort to make these things quality, you don’t need to create quality systems and programs… The Christians at church can do a quality job just on their own. You don’t need feedback cards if the individuals are just loving the new people.”

Yep, and who’s going to train them to do a quality job?

And who’s going to oversee that, when 30% of your congregation is new? Surely they need to do a quality job?

Can you see how that same love that starts with wanting to look after people, as the number of people grow and the number of people to love grows, requires and motivates love-fuelled quality in Christian ministry?

Would you like the Apostle Paul’s church?

I often wonder how we’d go at being a member of one of Paul’s churches. Think about the list in 1Tim 5…

“No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list.”

That seems pretty harsh right? What about unique circumstances? What about if they’re 58yrs old? What if they haven’t done those good things and they’re just starting out in the Christian life?

Now I’m pretty certain Paul would have opened the door to exceptional circumstances, but that’s just a hunch, because he’s not hinting at that here to Timothy is he?

The point is that Paul endorses a structure, a church system for loving many people, rather than every person. Why? Why not just say, “Work out if being on the list is good for widows or not on a case by case basis?”

Think about that, remembering this is God’s word…

Structures are there to love people, many people. I’m sure that there would have been widows (and their friends) in Ephesus with Timothy who would have felt really hurt by where Paul drew the line. Some people would have felt it was unfair. Others would have found it difficult to understand his reasoning (which he describes only briefly). But how should they have responded to Paul’s widow-list system?

Are you happy to be in a church where Jesus appoints overseers to make decisions to love many people over the individuals? If you’re an overseer at a church (pastor, elder, minister, etc.) do you feel the weight of making decisions that try to love the most, even if some people won’t like it?

p.s. I’m not saying it’s bad to ever have “case-by-case” basis, but rather that “hard-and-fast” systems are not bad. There’s a tension to hold between saying both “every-member-matters” and “we do it this way to love more people”

Jesus’ database

“but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Rev 21:27

The universal church is a list. Your local church is a list. Its a list of names, people, souls, individuals.

That list is very, very important. Its a human attempt (that we know won’t do justice) to replicate Jesus’ list – the lamb’s book of life.

But the list’s importance is derived from the importance of the people on the list – not the other way around. The list is important because it holds names of people whom Jesus thinks is important.


1. Have a list. Whether you’re a church-planter or staff-team. Whether your a group leader or just taking it on yourself to pray for a few people. Write it down, make a list, because each name is important to Jesus.

2. When do you look through your list? Having a list is pointless if you don’t look through it. Get your team to look through it. Get your co-leader to look through it with you. Pray through it. Act through it.