In preparation for my part of the Security & The Local Church 2017 Tour, I just finished reading “Evil Invades Sanctuary” by Carl Chinn. It amazes me that I just discovered this excellent work that discusses the WHY of church safety; it’s not just a “How To” manual. I highly recommend this book for every church leader and anyone interested in why we should be concerned for the security of our congregations.
Mr. Chinn’s action items and beliefs resonate strongly with me. Without pulling any punches Carl speaks to a topic that many religious organizations and churches struggle with; namely the perceived conflict between reliance on God’s provision and active security planning. Praying and relying on God’s protection does not in any way diminish our need to wear seatbelts, wash our hands before eating or going inside during a lightning storm. With that in mind; every faith based organization MUST provide for the safety and security of their volunteers, staff and visitors. Anything less is negligent and not supported Biblically.
For the last year I’ve been acting as the Director of Security at my home church; the prior year I just providing security on my own. Recently I’ve done consulting work for several other churches desiring to bolster their security posture. These last two years of being involved directly and personally with church security has opened my eyes to aspects of security that an outsider could never imagine. I believed I pretty much knew everything I was going to encounter in the church setting. I’ve been working in the corporate security consulting business for some years now; so what could be different? In a nutshell just about everything.
The key aspect of church security that we all need to understand is that protecting your staff, volunteers, congregation and the children has to be INTENTIONAL. Just having an off-duty or retired police officer, former military or someone with concealed carry ATTEND your church is NOT equal to PROVIDING security. Those individuals may be able to respond to an act of violence however a properly trained security team may be able to prevent or intervene to an incident faster than someone sitting in your worship center.
One of the things I’ve discovered is that it seems everyone who’s been in the military, law enforcement, has a concealed carry permit or been to an active shooter event training professes to be an expert when it comes to church security. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate and respect all of the above categories but take it from me they’re not experts. The church, my church, your church is not a battle ground, it’s not the crime plagued neighborhood, it’s not some You-Tube video hosted by some wanna’ be gunslinger; it’s a place of worship. It’s not the brick and stone; it’s the people gathering to praise God, open and inviting everyone into that environment. Our churches should not put up walls or uniformed armed guards to keep people out. I’ve discovered that making our churches a safer place is a real balancing act between providing active security and doing it in a manner that’s invisible to the congregation and visitors. I call it “The Dance”. It takes a trained team of men and women to oversee the variety of attendees who walk through those doors. It’s hard. Please don’t get lulled into a false sense of security.