Thursday, October 19, 2006

Control vs. Empowerment/Safety vs. Risk

There's a dreaded issue that we don't like to talk about in churches.

Who gets to have a key?

Last night as I provided some assistance to my son's Webelos den, which meets in our church's classroom space, I encountered a 15 year old boy in the hallway I'd never seen before. It turns out that one of the community groups that meets in our church building twice a week has turned over the key we gave them to this boy. He apparently lives nearby and is available to open and close the building for the group when they need it done, though he is not a participant in the group....I subsequently learned that this boy has been letting himself into the building at odd hours. He has startled a couple of our female leadership team members, who had no idea anyone else was in the building. But there's no reason to believe he's snooping through private stuff, nothing is missing, and he has not done anything remotely threatening to anyone or anything. But he's got some people a bit freaked out.


TN Rambler said...

We may not want to talk about it, and it can be a bone of contention for some folks, but it is something that should be discussed. If I were the pastor (or member of the board of trustees) of a church that permitted outside organizations to use the facility I would be less than pleased to find that a key to the church was given to someone not affiliated with the authorized group. If we observed proper procedure and required people to sign out keys to the facility with the promise that they would neither duplicate nor loan the keys, then from my perspective, we would have grounds to discontinue the outside group's use of the facility.

Unfortuntely, we live in a society that is no longer safe. As trustees and pastors we have a fiduciary duty to our congregation to do all that we can to ensure their physical safety in the building...and that means controlling access.

Chris said...

Our church has a fairly generous key policy but also has had to change the locks on the building every few years or so.

Yes, we had a teen with a key who sometimes let her friends into the building to mess with the video and sound system.

But we also had a former staff member who became a church planter (with our blessing) but retained a key and helped himself to borrowing our property (folding tables, etc.) without letting us know first because he "knew it would be OK anyway."

And we have had a few disgruntled folks over the years who left the church but were key holders.

There are many reasons to change the locks!