A few years ago, most people wouldn’t conceive that acts of violence were being committed inside a church. There has been a history of crimes against church buildings but rarely did we hear of violent acts against people during church services.
These plans address security for the pastor, church leadership, and the congregation. They detail what to do when there is an active shooter, a theft in progress, or disturbance between members. They also address the safety and evacuation in emergency situations.
You may be asking what can be done for your church in the event there is a disturbance at your church. Continue reading to better understand the importance of church security guidelines.
What is a Church Security Plan?
People come to church expecting an experience. They cannot fully engage in the worship experience if there is an underlying anxiety that it is not a safe space. With a church security plan, procedures are put into place to maintain the level of security parishioners expect without taking away from the church service.
Your policies and procedures should go into effect with no disruption to your daily operations. The security team moves into position in silence. They deal with threats quickly and efficiently.
The sign of good church security is no sign that one is in place. People come and go without distraction and without feeling infringed upon.
Creating a Security Ministry Who Should be Involved
When a church decides to create a church safety and security guidebook there are several key people in the room. The planning team will include the head pastor, his ministerial staff, key ministry leaders, and at least one security professional. Many religious institutions hire a professional security firm to help create a security plan.
Prior to any meetings the pastor and the security expert need to do a walk-through of the church and its surrounding buildings. The pastor will go over all concerns and needs for a safe church environment. This will also include a list of all security breaches.
In the planning meetings, the church representative will outline the church’s goals and what they hope to accomplish. The security professional will present a plan based on data relating to the church, community, and city.
What Type of People Serve on a Church Security Ministry?
There are various people suitable to work on a church’s security team. The size of the congregation will play a role in how extensive the church security plan should be. A small family church will not have the same concerns as a mega-church.
In some instances, members of the church can receive training from a local security firm. These people should be well versed on the security and vulnerability plan and procedures for emergency situations.
Often, houses of worship look within their congregation to find members with relevant experience, such as active or former military service members, police, first responders, etc.
Rolling Out the New Security Guidelines to the Congregation
Some churches will go so far as to create a church safety and security guidebook. This process and procedures manual can be reserved for members of the security team. Or you could choose to make copies available to all church members.
Once your plans are finalized a general meeting to explain the security policies should take place. Sharing the news at a regularly scheduled business meeting will also suffice.
At the meeting allow for a Q & A session for members to gain clarity. Introduce the head of the security ministry. Also, let members know who to contact if there is an issue.
It is important to not that a security plan is only as effective as it is practiced. Security plans that gather dust on a shelf won’t prepare your congregation for emergency scenarios.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Church’s Security Plan
Your house of worship’s security plan should be specific to your facility and congregation. There is no one-size-fits-all plan. It is essential you have a reputable security firm create a plan that takes into account best practices and your facility to create a vulnerability and security assessment that properly prepares your organization.
Require incidents reports any time something is reported no matter how minor or severe the event. Go over incidents to see if there is a trend. For example, you might create an incident report for cars being vandalized on church property, theft on the premises, etc.
Understanding these trends can help direct church security resources in the right places.
Locating Community Resources
There are various ways a church can utilize local resources in their security procedures.
Local police departments are a community partner. They can work with the church to provide on and off-duty officers. Growing trends include having an officer patrol the block during church service and standing inside during the offering collection.
Churches can also partner with self-defense trainers and abuse coalitions to come in and do safety workshops.
One thing to note is that hiring a professional security company to complete a risk and vulnerability assessment for your house of worship can be expensive. Many organizations aren’t aware that there are security grant programs and funding available for nonprofits. Don’t let the cost prohibit you from keeping your congregation safe.
Does Your Church Need a Security Ministry?
A Church security plan is more than protecting the pastor and the offering collection. There are serious threats to churches and their members. Having a plan to deal with a problem is vital to your ministry.
If you have a church in the Washington, DC area, we can help you devise a plan. Contact OPS Security Group to discuss your church’s security needs.