Church security has quickly become a major concern in light of recent events. Consequently, making the issues of awareness, prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery should be a major piece of your ministry. It is the responsibility of church leaders to ensure the safety of those under their care.
Church Security: 8 Tips To Improve Your Safety
1. Pray for the protection of those in your church.
As people of faith, we know that safety is of the Lord. Therefore, you should have your congregation pray for the safety of those who attend your services. This doesn’t mean that there is an invisible shield that keeps us out of harm’s reach. It means that your church is asking God to give wisdom on how they can best protect those under their care. With this in mind, put church security at the top of your prayer list keeping it before your congregation.
2. Conduct background checks on all staff and volunteers.
Reducing the possibility of an inside threat is important. Background checks can prevent those with criminal records from occupying positions in your church. For this reason, good church security involves performing “due diligence” by vetting all paid and volunteer staff. This kind of transparency will also boost the integrity and credibility of your ministry.
3. Get a comprehensive assessment of your ministry, facilities, and personnel by a church consultant.
Your church needs an assessment on multi-levels. A point often overlooked is that threats aren’t always physical. There are many ways that your church’s security can be at risk. Among those are physical violence, burglaries, embezzlement, vandalism, Cyber-attacks, identity theft, social engineers and more. A trained consultant can help you locate the weaknesses in your present plan and make recommendations.
4. Develop a tailor-made crisis and emergency plan.
A trained church consultant can help you develop a comprehensive crisis and emergency plan for your church. This includes prevention, threat assessment, intervention, crisis management and critical incident response. In light of this, hire a church consultant who has church security and FEMA training. They can help you create a proven “risk management” plan to protect your employees, worshippers, and facilities.
5. Train your staff and congregation on emergency procedures.
Your staff and volunteers are your first line of defense in any crisis. Most churches are not trained on safety and security issues. For this reason, church leaders should work with their staff to develop efficient crisis procedures. This includes lockdowns, evacuation plans, reverse evacuations, room clearing, shelter-in-place, and emergency drills. Your church security plan should include training on what to do if you have a crowded sanctuary, Sunday School, or nursery. Additionally, you need to have flexibility or alternate ideas in place.
6. Develop an atmosphere of situational awareness.
Situational awareness serves to identify criminal or dangerous situations. Your church staff and members need to be aware of their surroundings. This will help them identify potential threats and dangers. These can come in many forms like: harassment, bullying, domestic violence, stalking, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse, intimidation, and other forms of behavior. When ignored, these can sometimes erupt in more serious and violent behaviors. One of the primary elements is to first recognize that threats exist. Apathy, denial, and complacency can be devastating. You, your staff and your congregation need to look out for yourselves and those who come to worship. Situational awareness is a major part of church security and can help to avoid potential dangers.
7. Allow local first responders to familiarize themselves with your facilities.
Building a strong relationship with first responders is critical. You should include law enforcement, fire, rescue departments, and mental health providers. Allow first-responders to become familiar with your church. Be sure to provide local agencies with the floor plan of your facilities. Invite them to come to your church and meet with your church security committee. Once you have established your plan, ask a local first responder to review it. They can often bring to your attention things you might have overlooked.
8. Ensure that your church and leadership have adequate legal protection.
Each paid and volunteer staff member should have a clear job description. This can help a church avoid liability for someone acting beyond the scope of their job. Make it a requirement that all employees and volunteers must know your safety and security policies and exercise caution at all times. Have your lawyer look over any “Assumption of Risk” waivers. Inform your staff and volunteers the legal liabilities if they fail to report potential and actual violence or abuses to law enforcement. In counseling situations, never represent yourself as a professional or licensed counselor unless you have the credentials to back it up. Finally, check with your insurance carrier about coverage of a clergy malpractice claim.
Church Security Is Essential To Ministry
Church security is a necessary part of a full-orbed ministry strategy. Use these church security tips to serve as a guide to helping you provide a more secure atmosphere for those who worship at your church.