“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15
You may have heard this saying, or something like it, before. The verse from Matthew is a prolific teaching tool among Bible study groups, but it’s also a recognizable fable from Aesop. The lesson, in its most rudimentary form, is that just because someone appears to be something doesn’t mean they are truly that person. The verse is a sobering reminder that we can sometimes believe the truth, morality, kindness, sincerity and honesty that pastors, ministers, reverends, priests, rabbis and other proclaimers of faith are supposed to project, exemplify and simply, be. But just because a woman or man of faith dons a robe and carries a religious writing, doesn’t mean they are who they claim to be.
It’s disheartening. Frustrating. Makes you feel a little icky just for thinking it. But the sad reality is that, these days, you simply can’t tell whether or not a person – especially someone whom you hope will lead and represent your religious organization – is “good” by looking at them. Appearances can be deceiving and the only way to really shed light on who a person truly is to examine their background.
Conducting background checks is increasingly becoming the number one tool faith-based groups use to vet prospective clergy. Meetings with congregations, boards of directors, and typical voting procedures will never be replaced. But before boards make the move to introduce prospective candidates to congregations, it’s imperative that clergy candidates are thoroughly vetted. Things like criminal and financial histories, driving records, and even drug testing, should always be looked at before inviting someone to lead your house of worship.
Screening clergy isn’t just for peace of mind; There is also a huge financial impact that can be made from the wrong hire. If you mistakenly hire a wolf in sheep’s clothing you may find yourself vulnerable to:
- Sexual abuse
- Workplace violence
- Identity theft and other cyber crimes
- Unqualified workers
Above and Beyond
Protect My Ministry understands the need to screen clergy, and we have crafted an industry-leading customizable protocol to help ministries find the best solution to their needs. But we also believe in empowering clergy members to recognize wolves in sheep’s clothing who may be lurking in their own congregations.
Our comprehensive background check packages come with child safety training for abuse prevention. Estimates show that 90% of sex offenders don’t have criminal records and could likely go undetected without proper training for employees and volunteers to help identify alarming signs of abuse and how to report possible abuse. More alarming is that fewer than 10% of perpetrators are ever criminally prosecuted due to the passage of time, legal time limits, adults who minimize outcries of abuse, or survivors who never tell.
You, and your ministry, can help stop this. All you need to do is be engaged and vigilant in your methodology to screen your employees and volunteers.
Protect My Ministry has made it so easy with our Ministry Mobilizer and our child safety training measures. In fact, these pioneering programs are available 24/7, 365 days a year so there is no excuse not to participate!
Seek The Wolves
We urge you to expect the unexpected and work diligently to protect the safety and integrity of your ministry. Wolves in sheep’s clothing will not declare they are among you. It’s up to you to seek them out and protect your flock.