A disagreement between two individuals at the church turns violent, a stranger strolls into the church office shouting obscenities, and a man carrying a semi-automatic weapon enters the sanctuary during a Sunday morning service.
It is common for churches to believe the events mentioned above will never happen at their location. Many churches in the RMD serve small towns where “everybody knows everyone”. This feeling may promote a false sense of comfort and safety leaving churches unprepared for an emergency. What if one of these events happens at your church? Are you prepared?
Please consider starting a safety and security program at your church. There are some things you can do right now that don’t take a lot of work or money. Here are a few do-it-today action steps suggested by our insurance carrier, Brotherhood Mutual:
- Assign roles.
- In an emergency, determine who will call 911, who will talk to authorities, and who will talk to the media. Assign backups for each role.
- Identify trained professionals within the membership.
- Look for trained medical professionals, current or former law enforcement officers, and members with military or security backgrounds.
2. Create a single entrance into the church.
- Assign an usher or team member to lock doors once your service starts. Any unlocked doors should be actively monitored. All other entrances should be inaccessible from the outside of your church. Ensure that the exit doors remain unlocked from the inside.
- Monitor doors and lots.
- During services, assign a volunteer to monitor an unlocked door or two volunteers for the parking lot. Equip your volunteers with two-way radios.
3. Move your pulpit.
- If your pulpit is in the middle of the stage or platform, consider relocating it to the side. By doing this, pastors and other groups facing the congregation can be closer to an exit or side room. Position people at the front of the congregation who can observe comings and goings during the service.
- Draw attention to the exits.
- This may seem obvious, but in an emergency, it’s easy to forget about side or back exits. Start your message this weekend by pointing out all exits to your congregants.
4. Obtain a list of area crimes.
- Your local police department can provide a list of crimes that have happened near your address.
- Knowing is half the battle.
5. Invite local law enforcement, a fire marshal, ambulance service, or your insurance agent to your campus to identify trouble spots. They’ll help you better understand potential risks and offer solutions to help you create a safer church environment.
Be prepared for the unexpected by taking additional steps to plan for church safety issues. Brotherhood Mutual provides a host of resources on their website. Check out all the information related to Church Safety and Security here.
I am here to help as well. Please feel free to reach out to me in the District Office.