[dc]L[/dc]akeview Heights Baptist Church knows that church security is a hot topic that’s getting hotter all the time. This little church in Tulsa, Oklahoma has been robbed 29 times in 2012, 25 times in 2011. Thieves have taken a TV, two VCRs, five microwaves, a wheelchair, heaters, pots and pans, and even toilet paper and paper plates. The air conditioning unit has been stolen on three different occasions. Losses have added up to tens of thousands of dollars.
Church security problems are no longer confined to theft and burglary. People are the targets now.
There were at least 115 incidents of violence in churches, many involving firearms, in 2012. The escalating violence directed at church members, volunteers and clergy have prompted many to evaluate their security policies. A Google search of the terms “church shootings”, confined only to results published in the last month, returns thousands upon thousands of results. The clergy can no longer afford to ignore the problem.
Churches are not immune from some of the same risks faced by secular organizations — violent attacks, theft, arson, burglaries, and fraud to name a few” says Mark Lex, Security Executive Council and lead emeritus faculty of the Council’s faith-based security practice. “Recent tragic events within the church have once again raised awareness to all new levels in protecting our sanctuaries and people.
Interim pastor – lead!
Transition pastors – the intentional interim practitioner – will find the client church in some degree of administrative disarray. Policies and procedures, administrative systems and technology are typically dated, neglected and even ignored. An interim pastor’s task often includes repairing or replacing vital systems for a healthy church. An intentional interim pastor has not positioned the church to achieve its qualitative and quantitative goals if he leaves administrative chaos behind!
This means that you, the intentional interim pastor, will have to take the lead, guiding the church to develop policies and implement behaviors that address the deficiencies in the church system. Today that includes a system of monitoring the security of the church property and the people who use it.
Church security questions
- Does the church have a written policy and a current plan to protect church visitors, members, children and staff in the event of an attack?
- Do you have a firm policy on who can retrieve a child from the nursery or children’s worship/school area?
- What will you do with a child when a family emergency takes the child’s parents or guardian away from the church campus?
- Are the cribs and furnishings in the nursery securely anchored?
- Does the nursery have any toys that have been subject to safety recalls?
- Do you regularly screen to see if recent additions to the congregation are listed as sexual predators?
- How will you screen backpacks and briefcases going into the auditorium for weapons or harmful substances?
- Will you exclude backpacks, briefcases & etc. from the auditorium during services?
- What measures are in place to protect the church property from vandalism and theft?
- Is it time to hire security guards to patrol during public church services? If so, should they be armed?
- What are your lockdown procedures for nursery and children’s areas in emergency situations?
- How often do you train staff and volunteers in lockdown procedures?
- Who is responsible for handling disruptors during a church service?
- When was the last time the church’s written policy on the use of personal vehicles for ministry purposes was updated?
- Have you sought legal counsel to learn of the church’s liability for not having good, written security procedures in place?
- What does your insurance policy require in matters of personal and property security?
Church security resources
Here are a few helpful resources readily available on the Internet. Note that the Amazon links are affiliate links; I get a few cents in the tip jar if you purchase.
- Church Safety 101 from Church Safety
- Church Security Recommendations from the Alliance Defense Fund
- Keeping Your Church Safe by Ron Aguilar
- Church Safety and Security: A Practical Guide by Robert Cirtin
Has your church suffered a security threat of one sort or another in the past few years? What can you tell us about it and what came about as a result?
1/17/2011 This topic has taken off at the LinkedIn XPastor group
Image credit: senkaya / 123RF Stock Photo