There was once a time when churches across America would leave their doors open, so anyone come in and seek refuge from their troubles in a House of Prayer. Today, only a few uphold this tradition. While we would all love to think that things could remain as simple as they once were, the fact is—violence perpetrated against churches is on the rise.
It Can Happen Anywhere
A recent article in USAToday highlighted the new state of concern, saying “the number of deadly episodes at sanctuaries has soared over the last decade, and mass shootings at schools, malls, and movie theaters have left Americans feeling like it could happen anywhere.”
Most Churches Need to Improve Security
Houses of Worship are not immune to acts of violence, and according to According to Christian Security Network (CSN), an organization specializing in church security topics, 75% of places of worship in the United States are unprepared for a security emergency, and need to improve church security.
Important Steps in Improving Security
While the task of improving church security might seem daunting, there are things you can do today that will reduce the risks to your church and its members.
- Develop a corporate mentality about security and adopt professional security standards. That does not mean church needs to have a corporate feel, rather that the church thinks of the facility as public space vulnerable to those wishing to disrupt or perpetrate violence.
- Have a trained professional provide a risk assessment of the facility. Police, fire, and security professionals can all provide insight to areas of weakness, vulnerability or need.
- Install a security alarm system that includes access control and intrusion detectors. Access control systems can place certain areas off limits and provide a way to lock doors remotely.
- Install a video surveillance system. A surveillance system can provide critical knowledge in the event of an emergency as well as video verification in cases of accident or accusations.
- Form a security detail that involves layers of church personnel.
- Train ushers and greeters in how to react in emergency, spot potential problems, defuse agitators, and act as one layer of protection. Ushers should sit at various posts throughout the sanctuary for faster response times.
- Develop a code of gestures or key phrases to be used by those viewing from the front (and therefore have a different view), such as Pastors and song leaders, to be used to alert security staff to a potential problem.
- Start a parking lot greeting ministry. Visibility is a key component in thwarting possible acts of violence. Equip greeters with radios so they can alert other security team members to anything that may need attention.
- Maintain landscaping in such a way that it does not provide cover to intruders.
- Implement strict codes of safety that includes things such as always working in pairs, and a check-in and check-out system for children.
- Adopt and announce a policy that the church will never use knives or guns in plays or skits, nor will it ever use elements of surprise or shock. In many church shootings, members say they initially thought the event was part of a script which delayed their reactions.
If you have any questions about how you can improve your church security, or how a security alarm or video surveillance system can be a vital tool in protecting your church members, give us a call today. We’re always happy to help.