Preparation is the Best Church Security Plan
In this day and age, we can’t take our church security for granted. Preparation will be our best form of defense against any kind of attacks. Proper management and clear communication is the only way to create the best church security plan. Here are ten steps you can take today towards a safer church atmosphere.
1. Have People Know Their Assigned Roles Beforehand
Identify trained professionals in your church and ask who would like to be on call for security roles. Even before an emergency, everyone should know who is responsible for which role: Some key important ones to define are:
· Media representatives and spokespersons—Who is talking to the public and media if a security threat arises at national or even international level?
· Child Care Staff—When an emergency strikes, the children must be the first ones protected.
· Medical Roles—Who calls 911? Do you have any trained nurses and doctors in your congregation? They may need to be called on for life-and-death situations.
· Security staff—do you have any police, military, or firemen in your fellowship? They could be of great service during a desperate time.
2. Run Background Checks on all members and volunteers
Church events, gatherings, and especially outreach projects require a lot of hands-on help. You will be dealing with volunteers you haven’t known before. Make sure there is a background security check in place. This could be by a simple digital platform, a Facebook Group, or just simple forms. People should be registered and their details noted before engaging in any church activities.
Besides being a proper security protocol, background checks also make everyone involved feel safer and more at peace. Isn’t that an important goal to have when welcoming folks to church?
3. Develop emergency scripts to be read during services when needed
Remember that your congregation is already looking to the pastor for guidance. No doubt, he or she will be their first source of stability in an emergency. If that emergency occurs during a meeting or service, how well-prepared are your pastors to handle it? It’s natural to expect that there will be an instant shock, and they may be at loss for words. This is when a scripted text could indeed save lives.
The ideal emergency script your pastoral team can prepare should do these main things:
· Convey the urgency
· Assuage panic or fear
· Communicate the best safety measures to take immediately
· Guide people on what physical steps to take, which rooms or exits to go, etc.
4. Invest in tools for communication
Two-way radios can be useful where there is no good cellphone signal. If internet is available, you can consider having a Twitter Account or social networks where people can post messages in an emergency, or relay information. Just be sure that this information is also limited to those who can be responsible for spreading proper communication without unnecessary fear or angst.
5. Always have security cameras installed
Besides two-way radios, you need to be able to detect movement later, after the event of an emergency. Documenting all of this through recorded cameras will also guard you and your church in any legal issues. You will be able to claim legal protection in the case of disputes. Make sure you already have security cameras installed, and that they are working and functioning during all services.
6. Consider the position of your pastor’s pulpit
Included in the church security plan should be the layout and design of both pastor and congregations’ positions. It’s recommended that pulpits face both the crowds and exit doors. Rather than having the stage or pulpit in the middle of a building, consider positioning them to the side, near an exit or escape room.
7. Make sure everyone knows exit points
This may be a given, but don’t take it for granted. It’s okay to practice emergency exits just as you would set aside a day in the community to practice fire drills. This gives people the information they need in case of an emergency. If you are putting on any kind of theatrical show and dimming lights, ensure that the exit doors are still lit; that everyone knows where to locate them.
8. Communicate, Discuss, Develop
Church leadership must always be seeking ways to improve the quality of life for their flock—this extends beyond just spiritual guidance. It includes being open to discussions on physical safety, security, and realistic threats to a church and its members. These are difficult conversations at times, but the day may come when you’ll be grateful there was openness and frankness within your church departments.
9. Be on the lookout for other sources of disruption
Remember that security issues aren’t limited to the usual ones we hear of in the media: shootings or protests, for example. “Terrorism” is often a blanket-statement used, and one that instills more fear than faith within your congregation.
Where do other more common security issues come from? It can be anywhere, from domestic situations, to mental health issues amongst the youth in your church community, to child custody and legal battles between parents. It’s essential that church leaders don’t overlook these problems.
10. Don’t forget your joy
“But let all who take refuge in you be glad,” wrote King David. “Let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”(—Psalms 5:11)
We know that King David’s life was in constant danger. But he realized the importance of carrying a spirit of faith and trust in God. Leaders must set the example of strength even during dangerous times. Having a good plan in place will only work if you continue to inspire and uplift your church members. Create a sense of peace and an attitude of joy, and when they come to you for counsel and guidance, they will find it.
Make your church the place to be in times of joy, in times of despair, in times of loneliness, and even times of looming terror. Make it the safe haven where people know they are loved, accepted, and held with support every day of the year.