Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
In reflecting on the absolute evil that the nation is still reeling from; the murder of 26 of our brothers and sisters in Christ at a small church in Texas, certainly, this verse is comforting. Many have wrestled with the same emotions of so many. Worldwide Christians have ranged from an anger that is almost scary to wanting to crawl under the covers while crying out to God: Why?
As a nation, we need to heal. As Christians we need to work to be Christ-like in our reactions. For those of us involved in security; we need to get prepared, get tactical and focus like never before.
We are past the time of needing to make a case for security in a church.
It is fully understandable that this is so upsetting that it makes one not even know what to do. However, churches cannot be distracted or disrupted from their mission. Right now there are churches scrambling to come up with solutions.
Since the horrific shooting, many churches that have money to to pay to have hired security/off-duty police officers.
What is heart-breaking is that there will likely be people who do not go to church out of fear. Fear. That is the key word. It would be so very easy to let fear permeate the atmosphere of church in the coming Sundays after the mass shooting. From the little rural church on a dirt road in Oklahoma where everyone knows everyone to the Mega-Church in Las Vegas where hundreds, thousands of unknown faces are commonplace; fear will be winding its way through the aisles if allowed.
In 2nd Timothy 1:7 Paul says, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (KJV)
The Amplified translation reads as, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]."
Within this verse are all of the things everyone involved in security needs to focus on. Church security should never be reactive. Nor should it be done in a spirit of fear. Proper security is about being proactive. Even for the churches who are forming Church Security Teams - perhaps for the first time as a result of Sutherland Springs - it must be looked at that the team is being formed to get out ahead of any potential problems.
The congregation must also understand it comes from love; the church is showing love by forming a security and safety team to keep everyone safe. If the church security team members make the love of God their focus, and continue to be mindful that their mission is grounded in love for the congregation, then this will help drive out any fear.
Another key word is power. The other way to think of this is authority. Scripture is filled with verses on the authority believers in Christ have. It is suggested that any security team member, from the novice to the seasoned veteran read and reflect on such verses before reporting to their assigned posts within the church.
Proper church security takes high levels of judgement, it takes a mission-focused mindset, and it takes discipline on numerous levels.
Reflect again on the following, "...sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]." These are the traits of an exceptional security team.
In the first few weeks after the shooting; many churches will be unsure of what to do. First, pray. This is so very important. Pray for wisdom, pray for guidance and pray for calm and resolve.
Second, even if it is just one person with a military or law enforcement background, even finding one church member who will volunteer to watch the main door and lobby is a start. Almost every church has the capacity to form an effective security and safety team from volunteers. There is a tremendous amount of free information online and certainly, there are church security consultation services.
The key is this: God's love always wins. Do not let your church have an atmosphere of fear because of one deranged murderer. Remember the following:
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV
What happened in Sutherland Springs served to awaken many to the reality that all churches need some measure of security. This does not mean that the normal procedures and practices of a church need to be greatly disrupted. Train. Pray. Prepare. But do so based in love and always make sure even with the new security measures; your church is the light of the world, glorifying Christ.