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Crime Committed On Church Computer

By Raul Rivera

What's the Big Deal with Internet Use in My Church?

Technology has revolutionized the way churches connect with the community.  In fact, I often wonder how we ever did church without using the Internet.  My wife and I began our church when the Internet was in its infancy, and no one knew exactly where it would lead.  Today, we use church websites, email, blogs, social networking sites and many other forms of communication to plan, manage and run our churches.  While these are all great communication tools, rarely do we stop to think about the threat that each one may pose.

Access to Your Church Computer and Internet Use!

Many churches allow members or volunteers to access the Internet through church computers.  Church administrators assume that because it is a "church computer", no one would ever use it to commit a crime.  Stop and think about it for a moment, because it is a lot easier to commit a crime using the church computer than you might think.  Below are just a few examples:

Example One:  A member of the church worship team uses the computer to find new music for Sunday's worship service.  During his research, he illegally downloads pirated music.  With just a few clicks of the mouse, he has used the church's computer to commit a crime.  Crimes like these can easily be traced back to the church.  Every time a transaction is made on your computer, its IP address is made known.  All law enforcement has to do is contact your Internet service provider to pin down the exact location of the computer where the crime was committed.

Example Two:  John Doe is alone at church one evening going over final changes made to the Christmas play.  While there, he views pornography.  John Doe knows what he is doing is wrong, and he turns it off immediately.  He struggles from time to time with his past, but is really trying hard to break free from it.  What he doesn't realize is that the computer keeps a history of Internet sites he, and everyone else, has visited.  Three days later, an 11 year-old boy is on the computer and notices some weird looking websites in the history.  He was using the history tool to find an online game he often plays to pass the time while his mother attends board meetings.  The boy accidentally clicks on one of the pornography websites, and not knowing what to do, he spends 20 minutes looking at it until becoming scared by the images he sees.  The boy later tells his mother what happened, and the church's liability is now at an all time high.

Example Three:  Reverend XYZ is a staff minister who regularly uses the Internet as a way to update church members on upcoming events.  He also posts some of his personal teachings, primarily on Facebook and Twitter.  For the last several months, Reverend XYZ has been in disagreement with the pastor concerning some teachings and decisions that have been made.  Two weeks ago he used his Facebook fan club and twitter to rebut the pastor's decisions.  The church is now divided and will probably split.

These are three of many reasons why the church needs to adopt an Internet use policy.  There needs to be an Internet agreement between the church, the staff and long term volunteers.  As I mentioned earlier, the potential for liability against the pastor and the church is at an all time high.  The church needs to quickly come up to speed with all of the different ways that improper use of a church computer can lead to trouble.

Adopt an Internet Use policy 

I hope this article causes you to think twice about use of church computers.  There are hundreds of churches facing litigation, and even confiscation, because of improper use of the church computer.  Having an internet use policy for your church is imperative.  Our software app titled Vision teaches you how to write the vision of your church and then create poliocies and procedures that empowers your church to fulfill the vision.  It contains over 40 different polices and procedures including an internet use policy.  

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