Don't wait for something to happen first.
This article is not a blueprint for church security, but it is a beginning in opening dialogue about the need for church security, the elements involved, the stigma around security, and how security can be implemented in a church of all sizes.
I have been involved in the operation and planning of security at my church, a police officer, a firefighter, a soldier and have a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. My background is safety and security. I joined the army at 17, and I have been serving to protect in one capacity or another since then. A few years ago, I heard God’s call, calling me into ministry. I assumed He had called me into the realm of church security, since that was my background and what I knew best. Many times, when we hear from God, we limit ourselves and think far less of ourselves than God thinks of us. He had greater plans for me than I had for myself. I have since returned to school to complete my Bachelor’s in Biblical and Theological Studies and received my Certificate of Ministry. Even though my path is not leading me solely down the path of church security; it is still a passion of mine and one that I will continue to be vocal about, even though church security is still not a very common practice in church today. I appreciate you suffering through my introduction paragraph. It isn’t my intent to talk about all I have done, rather, I am creating the platform of why this is important to me, and why I believe it should be important to everyone that goes to or works at a church.
Is Your Congregation Protected?
What is Church Security
What better place to start than to define church security. There are many definitions and ideologies about what church security encompasses and what the name implies. I believe church security should be applied with a broad stroke of the brush, and then we can divide the parts into bite-size pieces. A broad stroke helps fit the term “church security” into any church setting whether there are 20 attendees or 20,000. Church security should be considered as the operational platform for which all persons and property belonging or related to the church in any way is protected, preserved, and secured. This does not mean that church security is a couple of guys with guns sitting in the congregation. The picture is much bigger than that. Additionally, it is that mentality that scares people away from the idea of church security.
What will you do in case of a fire?
Elements of Church Security
Church security is the body of employees and volunteers that concern themselves with issues such as medical events. Immediate medical response to a diabetic patient or stroke victim prior to an ambulance service arriving could be the difference in life or death. This aspect of security should even be used in minor incidents such as when a child scrapes their knee playing outside during a church event. Church security is about taking care of our family. Would you put a Band-Aid on your physical child’s knee? A trained church security team should handle medical situations. This gives the congregation and staff a piece of mind, and gives a mitigating factor to any potential law suits. Unfortunately, we live in a world that we must consider those issues.
Another aspect of church security that does not require a gun is theft and vandalism prevention. The number one way to prevent theft and vandalism is by locking doors and windows. I have been to numerous churches that had left a door unlocked for days without anyone checking it or being at the church. Obviously, if someone wants in a door they will force their way, but most of thefts (for cars also) are crimes of opportunity. The church could have a dedicated person to walk around and check doors and windows before they left. This is a task that doesn’t need to be left up to the pastor, because he should be and most likely is focused on his sermon, or counseling, or some other aspect of his duty that is, in and of itself, overwhelming. Like with the medical personnel, this does not need to be a paid position.
Of course, the physical safety of the congregation is a major point of concern. We do not have to read about 100 different shooting incidents to know and understand the threat exists and the consequences would be dire. As you most likely could gather from my introduction paragraph, I have carried a gun most of my life, and I love guns. I also realize, though, when a gun is and is not needed. We have 3 campuses at my church, and the smallest campus averages over 400 attendees per Sunday. There are few places in that sanctuary that I would feel comfortable taking a shot at someone. The risk of missing and hitting an innocent bystander is too great. That is why alternative methods and procedures must be explored, understood, and practiced. This article cannot cover all those issues. I hope to be able to do a follow-up in another article.
Does you church have a security team?
Does Your Church Have An Active Security Team?
Consider Implementing Church Security
This was intentionally a short article on church security. The purpose was to create conversation about the need and implementation of church security in your church. I look forward to all of your comments and questions. I am passionate about church security. I do not expect anyone to share the same passion as I do, but I hope you do share the same concern for your brothers and sisters in Christ as I do. Church security does not have to cost, and does not have to be a large, elaborate operation. I challenge you to consider a few of these events when you think about your church. What would happen at your church if: someone passed out, there was a fire or tornado, a fight started in the parking lot, a serve team was threatened away from the church while serving the community? The idea of church security can be overwhelming. Take a deep breath, step back, and evaluate what resources you have and go from there. Church security is intended to provide a safe place for the staff to do their job and the congregation to focus on the Word of God. God Bless you all, and may you never have a need for church security.
© 2018 ericjperry