Digital technology and risks to your church

13 January 2022

Understanding the risks with digital technology and how to manage them.

In common with many charitable bodies, Methodist churches are embracing digital technology and there is little doubt that this trend has accelerated as a consequence of the pandemic.

Reaching communities in new ways

Digital technology is enabling churches to reach out to their communities and further their mission in new ways. However, whilst there are many obvious benefits there are also associated risks that need to be managed in such areas as data protection, copyright, licencing, safeguarding and cybercrime.   
There are real benefits to digital technology and The Methodist Church has developed a significant amount of guidance on the topic.
There is also some helpful information around such risks as GDPR and data protection.
The Charity Commission offers a wealth of information for charities on its website.

How does digital technology impact insurance?

Many of our church customers often ask us about the insurance implications of using digital technology. We have therefore identified some common examples of how digital technology is being used in churches along with the related insurance and risk management considerations.
Common examples of digital technology in churches:
  • Live-streaming and recording church services
  • Meetings via Zoom or other virtual platforms
  • Church websites
  • Digital giving
  • General use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Electronic newsletters

Insurance cover for churches

Whilst insurance is available for a number of the risks associated with digital technology it must be remembered that churches should also have policies and procedures in place to manage these risks.
We are only able to provide a brief overview within this guidance so please refer to your policy document for more detail about the policy terms and limits.
Your church insurance policy includes cover for:
  • Data protection – damages and legal costs following a breach of data protection legislation.
  • Libel and slander – damages and legal costs following unintentional libel or slander or infringement of copyright.
  • Equipment – loss or damage in the church, in transit, at church events and at the home of a church official.
  • Church trustee indemnity – damages and legal costs arising out of wrongful acts by trustees whilst acting in that capacity.
  • Public liability – damages and legal costs arising out of accidental bodily injury or illness to third parties (including legal liability arising from abuse).
It should be noted that whilst insurance cover is available as outlined, it is our expectation that churches will research and follow the good practice guidance that has been developed by The Methodist Church (centrally) and other appropriate organisations such as the Charity Commission.
Please contact us on 0345 606 1331 if you would like to discuss your insurance needs further.

Managing risks associated with digital technology

Considerations include:
  • Copyright - ensure that you have the correct permissions to use material.
  • Data distribution – take care any personal data is distributed as intended following best practice guidance. 
  • Licences – check that you have the correct licences.
  • GDPR and image permission – gain permission to use the images of people where necessary. 
  • Social media policy – ensure that you have developed an overall social media policy.
  • Remote Church Council meetings – ensure that you are following Charity Commission and Methodist Church guidance and your governing document. 
  • Protection of equipment against loss, damage or theft (please refer to our guidance on the security of electronic equipment).
  • Safety of ministers or other church officials who may be working alone (please refer to our guidance on personal safety).
  • Safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.
  • Protection against computer viruses and cyber crime (please refer to our guide on protecting you against online risks).
We appreciate that this is a complex area and therefore please contact us on 0345 606 1331 if you wish to discuss any aspects of your policy cover.