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risk assessment - it's why you became a trustee!

By Alan Hough | 19 March 2012

Risk Assessment

Well, perhaps not.  However, risk assessment is an oft-maligned, sometimes misunderstood creature seen to be wrapping churches up in time-consuming unnecessary red tape whilst the real work of ministry remains dormant.


It does not have to be so.  Rather than being a constraint, trustees could consider the more positive aspects of an assessment, not least its desire to ensure that the ministry aims of the church are better achieved.


We understand risk assessment better than we think.  We cross the road when the traffic lights are red, because we assess that this eliminates most of the risk of being hit by a car.  The risk remains, but the control (in this case the traffic lights) is deemed sufficient.


Basic risk management for churches follows the same simple pattern.  Identify what the risks are, and then see if there are straightforward controls that can be adopted to reduce them, and move forward.  Trustees require discretion, but for most churches, in most environments, adopting sensible guidelines and following common sense procedures will mean that most activities can be enthusiastically and safely pursued.


A risk assessment tool


There is no single prescribed way for a church to consider and manage risk.  It is more important that a church undertakes an assessment of some kind, that it records its findings, and that it reviews the assessment from time to time.


Stewardship offers a recently revised and updated risk assessment tool.  It does not remove the responsibility or discretion required by the trustees but provides a structure to enable them to make informed choices.


The tool itself includes an introductory section showing how it works and provides a couple of worked examples to help trustees in their thinking.  The main body of the tool is divided into different topics and areas, allowing churches to focus on those areas that are most applicable to the circumstances in which they find themselves.  These topics and areas are:

  • Strategic and leadership
  • Employment
  • Legal and governance
  • Financial
  • Insurance
  • Communication and publicity
  • Children and youth
  • Buildings and property
  • Counselling and pastoral
  • Catering
  • Data protection

The tool can be purchased either in its “stand alone” form or in association with a half-day or full day visit from a Stewardship consultant.  A specially discounted rate is offered for churches making contact before 30 June 2012, wishing to arrange a visit sometime during the year.   Please contact Alan Hough on 0208 418 8166 or email [email protected] if you are interested in any of the packages offered.

Risk Assessment Toolkit

Inclusive of VAT at 20%.

1 – Members of Stewardship’s consultancy helpline

2 – Travel costs will be added (either public transport or applying the HMRC business mileage rate – currently 45p per mile)

Viewed in the right light, risk management can be very beneficial and quite liberating to a church even if it is still not the reason that you became a trustee.


To find out more about our Risk Assessment Toolkit, visit our consultancy services web page .

Posted by Alan Hough

Alan has an accounting background having worked in “the City” for more years than he cares to mention. He now works as an advisor and consultant to a number of Christian churches and charities seeking to help them better understand and embrace their finances.

On a good day, you might find him on out on his bike or at White Hart Lane cheering on his beloved Spurs.


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