Recently, a dear sister asked for some help in drafting a template for consent letters to be given out to youth group kids’ parents to allow them to participate in a youth camp.
The consent letter however, includes a disclaimer which parents are to sign, which relieves the church of responsibility in the event of accidents. While I was thinking of some appropriate wording for the disclaimer, some questions popped into my mind, which ended up troubling me a little.
What is the purpose of a consent letter?
- It is written proof that the children in the group have been taken with the parent’s knowledge
- Our own confidence that the children have joined the activity with their parent’s knowledge.
- Useful if there are any police roadblocks and they ask for proof that these children have not been kidnapped.
So yes, a consent letter is important when the church organizes a trip and takes under aged children along.
I understand that while every effort will be taken to ensure the safety of the child(ren) above, I will not hold InsertChurchNameHere responsible for any loss/damage of belongings and/or injury to the person.
Name of Parent/Guardian : _____________________________
What is the purpose of the disclaimer?
This is where I had a bit of problem. I can only think of one reason:
- To protect the church from legal action by the parent in the event of an accident.
This raised two questions in my mind as I looked at it in the light of Scripture:
- Are we taught this in the bible, i.e. to not be responsible for accidents that happen to children under our supervision? Are there any biblical principles, precepts, or practice that can justify this? I could not think of any. It appears to be a worldly practice more than a biblical one.
- Should such a disclaimer be made to the brethren? Didn’t Paul condemn the Corinthians for bringing one another to the public courts for judgment? Paul says that among Christians, disputes ought to be settled within local assembly? (1 Cor 6:1-8)
Aren’t we all part of a family? If I take my brother’s kids out on a picnic, or camp, do I ask him to sign a disclaimer? No way, its unthinkable. I should not have fear of legal action from a Christian brother, nor should I have any intention of taking legal action against a Christian brother. If anything happens, we’ll sort it out as brethren.
I can understand if we make this disclaimer to non-believing parents, as they are not part of God’s family, but I’m just not comfortable with this idea of getting my own brethren to sign such a statement.
What about you?