The vast majority of people who go into Christian ministry do so because they feel compelled, maybe even called, to share the good news of Jesus Christ. When they read Jesus’ call in Matthew 28:19-20 to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” they were all in, sold out, and ready to go. Yet, it’s not that simple for those pursuing the great commission through working in the church anymore. Operating a church, especially a church that owns property, requires people with professional skills. There are legal issues (becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), accounting principles, human resource compliances, building safety, etc. With each new year comes new laws, making it increasingly difficult for churches, especially churches with a small staff, to comply with all the changes.
If you operate a church in California, the list of new laws just increased. While this is not a comprehensive list, here are five areas California churches need to check going into 2024.
Although AB 506 passed in 2021, California provided a grace period to allow organizations time to set up the required training and administration for compliance. In general, AB 506 requires organizations that work with youth (like most churches) to complete child abuse and neglect reporting training and undergo background checks for all administrators, employees, and volunteers. In addition, churches must develop and implement policies and procedures that ensure appropriate reporting of suspected incidents of child abuse. Compliance requires screening (Live Scan background checks), training (approved mandated reporter), and policies.
The aim of SB 553 is to take steps to prevent and appropriately respond to workplace violence. SB 553 takes effect on July 1, 2024, when California workplaces must adopt a comprehensive violence prevention plan. To comply, churches must ensure a compliant workplace violence prevention plan is in place that includes training on all aspects of this new law.
Passed in 2020, SB 1343 is about creating a harassment-free work environment through training. This training must occur within six months of hiring an employee and happen every two years. There are different training depending on the employee’s role: supervisory (2 hours) or non-supervisory (1 hour). The harassment prevention training must be interactive and from a professional.
Senate Bill 2 establishes new standards for issuing CCW (concealed carry weapons) licenses and limits the public places citizens with a CCW can carry their weapon – including into churches. However, as of January 6, 2024, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order preventing the state of California from enforcing SB2. Gun control is a hot-button topic that brings about very strong emotions from both sides of the issue. Churches need to be aware of this law and the potential implications if passed – especially if your church has a CCW team.
Regardless of your political views, it’s hard to argue the intent of these laws. After all, who doesn’t want to protect children, create non-toxic work environments, or reduce violence – especially in the church? As followers of Jesus, let’s set the standard, even before the law requires it. We set the standard when we live out Paul’s instructions found in Philippians 2:3-4, “Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.”short url: