Church Violence: What is the Cost of Inaction?
The head-in-the-sand mindset is misguided.
An Ohio newscast recently relayed the good news that multiple churches were receiving security training from law enforcement in order to protect their congregations.
“In this day and age, who knows what could happen, who could walk through the front door?” said one pastor. “Bombings and violence in churches – it catches your attention.”
We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we do what we do: Educate and equip churches, schools and businesses to be ready for the “what if?”
However, another pastor interviewed for the newscast said he was not worried and won’t be participating in the training. Why? He believes God will protect him and his flock. The pastor also believes violent acts haven’t “happened in our churches and wouldn’t for the most part.” Finally, smaller churches are less likely to be targeted, he said.
I truly wish that this pastor was correct and that we here at Strategos could close up shop. But we can’t. And here’s why:
It can happen here
There have been more than 1,000 violent incidents at churches since 1999 and a 600 percent increase in the last decade alone. True, the statistical likelihood of it happening to your church is small. But it was equally small for the churches where people were killed by gunmen. Statistics are cold comfort in those cases.
It can happen in rural areas
Over half of active-shooter incidents occur in rural areas. Even as rural as Nickel Mines, Pa. (population 43), where a gunman killed eight grade school girls in a one-room Amish schoolhouse.
God can use our planning to protect us
I’m not a theologian, but the fact that 99.9% of us lock our doors indicates we believe that God expects us to do something to protect ourselves. A verse that lends support to this is Proverbs 22:3.
There are numerous ways to protect a church. Churches don’t have to compromise their mission or their welcoming culture. It’s not all or nothing.
The newscast closed with a rebuttal from another pastor in the community. He spoke out against the idea that “it can’t happen here.”
“I think that it would be absolutely a travesty to take that position, because it can happen,” he said.
We’ll pray that it won’t, but will prepare in case it does.