The local church must always make the supervision and protection of children a priority. While this is important for the church it is also vital for any groups that rent or use a church’s property.
In a common practice, many churches will rent to or allow a sister congregation to use its property for services and meetings. While the host church may take every precaution in ensuring the supervison of children, what if the sister church is not as diligent?
The risk created by the sister congregation’s lack of supervision is not limited to that congregation. It extends to the host church as well, since it is the property owner. In other words, if a child is abducted, molested, or in any other manner hurt or killed, the host church will be named as a defendant if a lawsuit is filed.
Host churches should be sure they are satisfied with the level of risk management being exercised by the sister congregation and also with the amount of insurance coverage that it has obtained. However, it is important to remember that adequate insurance is NOT a substitute for risk management. The fact that the congregation has adequate coverage does not mean that it can abdicate its legal duty of providing reasonable supervision. If the congregation cannot provide adequate assurance that it is practicing appropriate risk management, then the host church should not hesitate to terminate its agreement for property use consistent with any legal documents that have been signed.