No one wants to think about a thief breaking into their church to steal church property. We’d also like to not worry about our church members' safety while worshipping on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, recent events prove these types of situations are worth worrying about. There are, however, some measures we can take to keep ourselves safe.
Here are three church security tips to protect your congregation.
Tip #1: Acknowledge the Need to Take Action
When Nehemiah’s team started rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, they faced threats from the surrounding community. They didn’t pretend those threats didn’t exist. Instead, they took action: “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Nehemiah 4:9)
Just like Nehemiah’s team, churches face threats that require action. Build support with the Senior Pastor, elders, and other leaders in your church to take steps to protect the congregation and church facilities. As Thom Rainer said, “There is a resistance to church security measures by a vocal minority.” This means that there are some who believe security measures are an overreaction. But if your congregation fell victim to one of these heinous crimes, wouldn’t you wish you had overreacted?
Tip #2: Establish Preventative Measures
While it’s impossible to prevent 100 percent of security incidents, there are several steps we can take to prevent many of them.
To start, work with your church’s insurance company to evaluate potential risks and identify ways to mitigate each. This may include installing security cameras, developing a security or emergency response team, or creating emergency evacuation procedures. Brotherhood Mutual recommends identifying trained professionals — such as doctors, police officers, paramedics, and those with backgrounds in security services — within the congregation.
It’s also a good idea to talk with local first responders and get their insights regarding vulnerabilities of the church campus, what to do in case of an emergency, and how best to help first responders once they arrive.
Tip #3: Train and Enforce Preventative Measures
All of the documented policies in the world won’t help if you don’t provide sufficient training and enforce their use. Take the time to train staff and volunteers on how to prevent instances like a kidnapping attempt or what to do in case of an active shooter or another emergency.
Once this training is complete, periodically ask staff and volunteers how they should respond in specific situations. If they hesitate, you need to invest more time in reiterating the procedures. In a life-threatening situation, hesitation won’t be a luxury.
In addition to the more dangerous situations, train staff and volunteers on how to protect the church facility. This includes locking up after finishing the workday (your church Facilities Manager might be in charge of this) and only having the main entrance unlocked during business hours.
Being prepared is NOT an overreaction. It’s important to equip yourselves with the knowledge of reality in order to stay vigilant and alert.