Church Security is something never even thought of in the American Church for decades upon decades. However, sadly this is something that is now at the forefront of ministry. According to Carl Chinn, there have been over 1700 deadly incidents at American churches since 1999. Here are 10 baseline considerations for keeping your church safe in 2021.
Commandment #1 Thou shalt lock the doors. This sounds so simple but in the majority of churches, important doors are unlocked. Any room not being used during worship should be locked. Why would we give potential threats easy access to parts of the building to potentially harm parishioners or commit sexual crimes? In addition, once church starts access doors that have crash bars is a simple way to keep a threat out or at least slow them down. Sadly the majority of churches do not follow this commandment.
Commandment #2 Thou shalt use a team approach to safety. So many churches tell me they don’t need training because they have a couple of firearms permit holders in the church. While this can be a good or bad thing we want to use a team approach. This means we want a trained parking lot team. This team should be trained in looking for and spotting potential threats. Almost every active attacker gives off clues prior to the event. In addition, we want ushers and greeters trained on what to do during an active attacker event. Lastly, we want each church to have a trained safety or security team. One person no matter how much training they have received cannot keep an entire congregation safe. It takes a team.
Commandment #3 Thou shalt not be focused only on active shooters. While we need every church in America to have a trained response to an active shooter there is a much higher likelihood of a heart attack at your church this weekend. Sadly there is a greater chance a young person gets molested at your church this weekend. There are other dangers at church such as robbery, fire, health issues, and weather concerns. We want to keep our church safe from all threats.
Commandment #4 Thou shalt have a firearms policy. One of the biggest questions I get at every training I do is what should we do with firearms? We tell every church to pray and do what God tells you to do. If God tells you to have unarmed security do that. If God tells you to do armed security do that. Whatever you choose, be trained and certified. As someone who does church security training almost every weekend in America, I rarely find a church that has a firearms policy. Most churches take a don’t ask don’t tell approach to firearms. While you can never know who exactly is carrying a firearm you can take helpful steps to help curb accidental or intentional firearms violent activities. Not having an official firearms policy for your church is almost begging for a lawsuit. In addition, most church insurance companies we work with almost always want to know who on the church security team is carrying and if they have been trained.
Commandment #5 Thou shalt have an organized safety/security team. Thousands of congregations have no safety plan or have something thrown together. Every congregation needs an organized safety team. As you are organizing we strongly encourage you not to call your team a security team. Vital parts to a safety team are having a leader, having regular meetings, and scheduling at the minimum yearly training. If you would like to host a Strategos training in 2021 you can receive free spots just for opening the doors of your church. It costs you nothing to host a training event at your church. For more information go to https://strategosintl.com/church-security-training.
Commandment #6 Thou shalt work with your insurance company. The bible says in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” I am constantly amazed at how many churches allow security/safety teams to carry firearms but don’t have them on their church insurance policy. The worst thing a church can do when it comes to firearms is guess. If your church would like local church insurance company references we can provide this for you. There are insurance companies that can provide protection for your armed security team for less than $300 a year. Don’t do church security without your insurance company.
Commandment #7 Thou shalt focus not just on response, but prevention. Many people love response training. I am one of them. I love firearms training and I love hands-on compliance training. However many times those techniques are a response to a threat. What I love is prevention training. This isn’t the most popular type of training because it can’t be measured. However, prevention is where it is at!!! No replacement can be made for a trained parking team, ushers, greeters, and security team that are trained no just to stop a threat but prevent a threat.
Commandment #8 Thou shalt submit to leadership and laws I do over 50 church security trainings a year. One of the biggest things I hear is, “I don’t feel supported by my leadership. I am just going to do it.” The bible says in Romans 13:1, “Submit to governing authorities.” We can never do church security correctly if we don’t submit to church leadership and legal law. If your church leadership isn’t on board with your plans go to them privately and share your heart. God never blesses the overriding leadership that He has installed.
Commandment #9 Thou shalt make your safety team a ministry. The overwhelming majority of church safety and security teams are volunteer. When a safety team is paid you can demand a certain level of response. However, for the 99% of church security teams that are volunteer, it is vital that you make that team a ministry. You are giving them something worth more than a million dollars. For everyone on your team, you are giving them the opportunity to serve the Lord in ministry by serving others. Make your security team a ministry by making it fun, rewarding their efforts with small tokens of appreciation, having bible study in the group, and committing to pray every time you meet.
Commandment #10 Thou shalt have certified training. Have you ever known someone to take a short cut? I have and I see it often in churches. We want every church that gets trained to have a company that is recognized by church insurance companies performing the training. Oftentimes security teams are thrown together. We would never go to a surgeon, pilot, or dentist for services where they just throw something together. Church Security can be about life and death. We want to make sure that if it is firearms, compliance control, verbal judo, you name it, that any training we get is recognized and recommended by our church insurance company.
In conclusion, thank you for all you do! The hope for the world isn’t found in a political party, it is found in the Lord. Your ministry of church security is just as vital as the worship, teaching, and fellowship ministry that will take place at your church this weekend. You are a servant of God. Thank you for all you do!
Barry Young has dedicated his life to helping churches improve security. He has been the director of security at two churches in the Kansas City area and is a chaplain for the Independence, Mo., Police Department. He’s also a black belt in Sho-Lum-Tae Karate. Barry’s goal is for every church in the United States to have a comprehensive security plan and team that goes from the parking lot to the pulpit.