The main considerations for managing Church Business Directory risks are possible exposure to bad press, and also litigation.
But there are also hidden risks of not having a Church Business Directory that might be greater which are discussed in the article entitled The Risks of Not Having a Church Business Directory.
This article about managing Church Business Directory risks mostly pertains to large churches because they can be seen as attractive targets for litigation due to the perception that they have deep pockets. Large churches are also potentially targets for bad press because due to some media outlets choosing to cast a church in a bad light.
There has never been any litigation or bad press caused by a Church Business Directory produced by Missional Marketing because of two reasons. The first reason is that Church Business Directories are not intrinsically prone to cause these kinds of problems. The second reason is that we have methodically managed any risks every step of the way.
Missional Marketing has developed six approaches to managing Church Business Directory Risks:
- Advertiser Eligibilty
- Red Flag Categories
- Pop Up Disclaimers
- Advertiser Reviews
- Terms of Service Agreements
- A Well Trained Christian Staff, so you are in good hands.
Managing Church Business Directory Risks
It would be a problem for a church if a consumer scheduled an appointment for a massage with a therapist found in their Church Business Directory and were then offered sex at the appointment! This is exactly the kind of story that the press would eat up, so we manage these types of situations by treating massage therapists as a Red Flag Category as described below.
It could also cast the church in a bad light if congregation members bought a bad investment from a Wealth Management provider found their in the directory who then failed to perform the services promised in the contract. This risk is mitigated by requiring risk disclaimers to appear in the search results of this category of advertisers.
Because the church needs protection from these scenarios, the Church Business Directories produced by Missional Marketing have what we refer to as ‘Red Flag Advertiser Categories’.
We have developed a strong Advertiser Eligibility process for our Church Business Directories. The most basic requirement is that an advertiser attest that they are followers of Jesus who attend the church on a regular basis and also are an owner, manager or decision maker of the business.
It is also common for the church to require that advertisers take or have taken their membership class or something similar so they have a clear understanding of the church’s teaches and oftentimes results in further involvement.
We have streamlined this eligibility process so that there is very little required by the church.
Red Flag Advertiser Categories
Red Flag Categories have greater potential to create risk or conflict for the church than other categories and each church chooses their own Red Flag Categories.
In light of this exposure, Red Flag Categories are managed closely on behalf of the church by Missional Marketing. This extra vigilance can include the following:
- Excluding the category or requiring extra disclaimers.
- Checking the prospective advertiser’s online reputation.
- Asking the prospective advertiser qualifying questions.
Before the Church Business Directory is launched, we provide the church with a list of Red Flag Categories and also discuss if they want to impose any restrictions or exclude any of those categories from advertising in their Church Business Directory.
Red Flag Advertiser Categories:
- Counseling and Personal Coaches
- Wealth Management
- Massage Therapists
- Divorce Attorneys
- Alcohol, Tobacco, Gambling, & Firearms
The table below looks at the considerations of managing the risks associated with these Red Flag Categories.
|Content Seeking Traffic||Social Media Traffic||Transactional Traffic||Paid Traffic|
|Church blog readers||Facebook page click-throughs||Online giver visits||Google advertising|
|Church video viewers||Instagram page click-throughs||Event signups||Facebook advertising|
|Online lesson viewers||Twitter page click-throughs||Registrations||Instagram advertising|
|Google, Bing, & Yahoo searchers||Social media shares||Church store shoppers||Retargeting advertising|
|Email click-throughs||Traditional media spurred website lookups|
|Click-throughs from linked websites|
Disclaimers That Pop Up When People Visit The Directory Website
During our first eight years, several mega churches had their attorneys evaluate the risks associated with the Church Business Directory. These attorneys advised that the Directory should show a disclaimer to those who visit the website.
In accordance with their advice and the language these attorneys provided to us, we have programmed the Church Business Directory so that when a person visits the Church Business Directory website they are automatically served up a disclaimer with the following language:
No warranty is made by [Church Name] regarding any information, services or products provided through or in connection with the directory. [Church Name] hereby expressly disclaims any and all warranties, including without limitation: any warranties as to the availability, accuracy or content of information, products or services; any warranties of merchant-ability or fitness for a particular purpose. User agrees to hold harmless, protect and also defend [Church Name], its affiliates, officers, directors, employees, agents, subcontractors and vendors for any and all actions, claims and/or damages resulting from the use of the directory. Please use practical judgment in evaluating the services, products or employees of any business shown here. The platform is not to be used as a means of solicitation.
You can see how this pop up works by visiting one of our Church Business Directories here. When the website first loads you’ll see a pop up that looks like the screenshot shown below.
Advertiser Reviews Also Protect the Church
Our Church Business Directories have an Advertiser Review section. This feature keeps advertisers honest because it creates a way that consumers can make it known if an advertiser fails to meet their expectations. We monitor the reviews and also contact the business when a consumer posts an unfavorable review, therefore allowing the business to rectify the situation before the review posts online.
Advertisers Terms of Service Also Protects the Church
There is legal language in the advertisers Terms of Service that protects the church. Each person who advertises in their Church Business Directory agrees to the Terms of Service by clicking on an “I Agree” button as shown in the image below. You can read the full Terms of Service here.
Here are some excerpts from the Terms of Service highlighting the language that protects the church:
I agree to hold harmless, protect and defend Gdirect, its affiliates, my church, their officers, directors, employees, agents, subcontractors and vendors for any and all actions, claims and/or damages resulting from the performance of the agreements between me and my customers and vendors.
I, to the fullest extent permitted by law, shall indemnify, hold harmless, protect and defend Gdirect, its affiliates, my church, their officers, directors, employees, agents, subcontractors and vendors from and against any and all claims, losses, damages and liabilities, including attorneys’ fees and expenses, resulting from the advertisement and its content; any violation of privacy rights and/or infringement of copyrights; any failure to obtain permission from models who appear in the ad; and also any federal, state or local laws relating to the Advertiser’s performance and/or performance of the materials; and also any breach by Advertiser.
A Well Trained Christian Customer Service Staff
Our Customer Service team are all well trained Christians who care deeply about The Great Commission. The team are continuously trained to watch Red Flag Categories, Pop Up Disclaimers, Advertiser Reviews, and also adherence to the Terms of Service.
Is it Worth the Risk?
A quality provider can manage Church Business Directory risks. So, is it worth it?
Churches reap very significant benefits from a Church Business Directory which are described in depth in our article entitled Church Business Directory. With intentional promotion it can engage your church’s congregation so it’s the Light of the world in their marketplace by:
- Identifying and engaging business leaders
- Encouraging tithing
- Increasing marketplace impact
- Increasing ministry exposure
- Heightening community awareness
- Sharing the directory with coworkers, friends, family members and neighbors
- Using the digital tools we provide, your church message is sent, shared, and used
- Connecting your church to the marketplace
For Further Reading About Church Risk Management
Church Law and Tax published a good article about church Risk Management that you can read here.
It is also worth checking out the Church Risk Assessment Pack offered by Church Law Today.
Seek Legal Counsel
Churches should seek legal counsel when assessing risk.
There is a risk to having a Church Business Directory but also a risk to not having a Church Business Directory. Having one could minimize the church’s risk and also garner the benefits of having a Church Business Directory.
Churches should be sure to choose a Church Business Directory provider that has a proven track record of effective customer service and also conflict management expertise. The provider should also have experience and solid methods for minimizing the church’s exposure to bad press and also to litigation.
A lesser risk to manage is the drain on the church staff’s time that could be caused by poor customer service or poor conflict management between Church Business Directory users and businesses who advertise. This minor risk is discussed in another article entitled Church Business Directory Conflict Resolution.
For More Information
Missional Marketing is a dedicated Christian communications firm working with Christian Churches and Organizations across the country, and we are also a Top 5% Certified Google Partner. So what are you waiting for, get in touch today!
Contact Jason Hamrock or Kevin Peck, or use the Contact Us button.
Jason Hamrock – Phone: 480-773-9115 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Peck – Phone: 602-481-2991 | Email: email@example.com