As another house of worship recovers from a shooting during services, its time again to check our own security processes to make sure we are ready for what the world may throw at us. On Saturday, a gunman entered a synagogue near San Diego, shot, and killed people there to worship. The assailant praised recent shootings and bombings at houses of worship across the globe. Church leaders can no longer afford to think it won't happen to their church. We must have security teams in place. The good news is that many already have them in place and don't know it, or could put them in place to bootstrap church growth and guest retention. Josh Bryant has three tips on preparing your church's defenses.
Guest Services Teams Are Your First Line of Defense. Train them well. They should be the friendliest people in your church. They should be in the parking lot welcoming those who arrive and helping them inside. They should be holding the doors as guests and members enter the building. They should be stationed at key choke points in your building to help people get where they need to go. And all of them should be on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious.
Your Second Line of Defense May Cost Some Money. You need actively monitored security cameras. If you have the financial means to do so, you can outsource this to a private security company. If you don't, you need to install security cameras that cover every square inch of public space in your church. You need a volunteer in a secure room actively monitoring those cameras. That volunteer needs to have the ability to contact key staff quickly and discreetly, as well as the ability to contact law enforcement. Passively monitored systems (those that just record) are of little help in stopping a mass shooting at your church.
Don't Start With Your Last Line of Defense. Often times, church leaders ask Managing Attorney Josh Bryant who gets to carry a gun. If they haven't addressed the first two lines of defense, that's not the correct question. However, there comes a time when it is a good question to ask, and we need to address it. There is no one answer that fits every church. If you have the ability to hire an off duty law enforcement officer or private security company, that's the best way to go. If not, you need a team of volunteers that you select (not that come to you begging to carry a weapon). They need to be well trained by someone with experience training law enforcement or military personnel in the handling of small arms in stressful situations. If this post listed everything you need to consider, it would be quite long. Instead, join one of Josh Bryant's security webinars to learn more.
Don't Forget to Pray. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12
Church General Counsel Managing Attorney Josh Bryant, J.D., M.Div., authors most of the posts in this section. From time to time, he will post articles from others in the field of church growth, administration, and operations.