10 Action Steps Every Church Should Consider Regarding Security

More than a week after the horrific, tragic and frightening shooting at a rural Texas church, many church leaders are thinking seriously about their own church security and what may need to be done to protect their congregations.

Leaders from the American Pastors Network, the largest national network dedicated to equipping pastors to be a voice for truth in the public square, have discussed the tragedy with pastors, held strategic conference calls on the topic and addressed the news on the APN radio ministry, “Stand in the Gap Today” (listen here and here), heard on 425 stations around the country.

“Unfortunately, church security is now a pressing matter in our nation,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “No longer can we fully count on the peaceful and serene sanctuary of the church. It’s clear that those with evil intentions, whether against the church itself or those inside, have sought to steal and kill and destroy, as we witnessed at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Because of the magnitude of the destruction of lives there through violence, church leaders are now considering demolishing the church building, after the hopes and dreams of 26 lives were demolished on November 5. We live in a culture where our churches must seriously think about how to keep people safe. Just as a shepherd carries a staff to guard his sheep, so must every pastor employ ways to protect his flock.”

After conversations over the past week, Rohrer and other APN leaders developed recommendations for churches to consider when it comes to the important matter of church security.

  1. Understand the biblical and moral responsibility of church safety. It is the duty of pastors and church leadership to do all they can to protect the lives of those in the congregation. Scripture sets forth clear responsibilities for those in positions of authority. They are to lead (II Tim 4:2, Hebrews 13:17); teach (James 3:1, Jeremiah 3:15, Eph. 4:11-12); protect (Ezekiel 34:1-10, I Peter 2:5, Acts 20:28) and serve (I Peter 5:1-4). The Bible also gives examples  of watchmen and gatekeepers who were to guard the temple and the city in Old Testament times (I Chron. 23:5, I Chron. 26:1-19, Neh. 7:1-3, II Sam. 18:26); and shepherds who were to guard the sheep in the New Testament (a type of Christ and the true Church of believers) (John 10:1-3). The church should be a place of both spiritual and physical safety. The Pastor, especially, is to guard the church from false doctrine, and those who would take advantage of the “sheep” both morally and physically, as the churches in Revelation were commended for their watchfulness and condemned for their failure in this area (Rev. 2:2, Rev 2:20). To listen to a Stand in the Gap Radio program with more on  this topic, please click HERE.
  2. Develop and train a security team.Dedicate certain individuals, whether staff or volunteers, to undertake the important issue of security. Train these personnel how to identify potential threats and how to de-escalate potential threat situations. During services or functions, outfit the team in plain clothes.
  3. Perform a risk assessment.Where is the church vulnerable in its facility and grounds? Consider a community threat assessment as well.
  4. Implement security protocols.Consider these suggestions: 1) Lock doors after services begin; 2) Post security team members at entrances; 3) Conduct a regular, annual re-assessment of the security plan.
  5. Install security cameras.Consider video surveillance to document and record potential threats or incidents.
  6. Establish a medical response team.Mobilize medical personnel already within the congregation who can take action if injuries ever occur.
  7. Evaluate the legal parameters for security measures.Research insurance requirements and conduct a liability assessment. Identify state civil laws regarding security measures, which can vary from state to state.
  8. Create an evacuation plan.Be sure the security team knows how to best evacuate churchgoers of all ages and mobility ranges, and consider creating another key team to assist. Practice the plan through drills.
  9. Involve local law enforcement in the security plan.Tell local police departments and other emergency responders about the security plan, perhaps through an evening meeting. They may be able to offer additional suggestions or protocols.
  • Communicate the new or existing security measures with the congregation.Members will appreciate knowing the church has a plan to keep them safe.

Photo by Daniil Kuželev on Unsplash

3 replies
  1. Timothy E. Holloway DMD
    Timothy E. Holloway DMD says:

    An untrained civilian with a weapon in a crowd can be as dangerous as the one threatening the congregants. An impromptu shot at a perpetrator could go anywhere and injure an innocent. A WELL TRAINED TEAM who are all on the same page is the safest and most reassuring to the congregation. A Discrete but prepared security force can restore serenity and ease any concerns or apprehensions in the congregation. Ultimately it is God who protects but He most often does his bidding through prepared saints who first and foremost honor Him and His code of Firm but compassionate justice.

    Reply

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