A pastors' organization says churches have a biblical and moral responsibility to protect their congregations from attacks in the wake of numerous church shootings – one of which recently took place after Christmas in Texas.
Over the years, tragic church shootings have forced pastors to reconsider how they are going to provide safety for their flocks. The result is that church security has become more and more of an issue in today's increasingly violent society.
A problem churches can no longer avoid
The American Pastors Network (APN) bills itself as "the largest national network dedicated to equipping pastors to be a voice for truth in the public square." The group is now taking a leading role in educating pastors and church leaders about how they should go about protecting their flocks from violent attacks, which has become a major concern for churches from coast to coast.
"Unfortunately, church security is now a pressing matter in our nation," APN president Sam Rohrer asserts. "No longer can we fully count on the peaceful and serene sanctuary of the church."
Rohrer contends it is the duty of pastors to do all they can to make sure their church staff and congregants are given sanctuary in their sanctuary.
"It's clear that those with evil intentions – whether against the church itself or those inside – have sought to steal and kill and destroy, as we witnessed at West Freeway Church of Christ in a Fort Worth, Texas, suburb," the Christian leader recounts. "We live in a culture where our churches must seriously think about how to keep people safe."
He refers to the obligation spiritual leaders have today to safeguard their flocks, alluding to a familiar analogy often discussed in the Bible.
"Just as a shepherd carries a staff to guard his sheep, so must every pastor employ ways to protect his flock," Rohrer contends.
Rohrer and other APN leaders are offering ten sound, biblical recommendations for churches to examine and take to heart when devising policies concerning church security:
- “Understand the biblical and moral responsibility of safety. It is the duty of pastors and church leadership to do all they can to protect the lives of those in the congregation.”
- “Develop and train a security team. Dedicate certain individuals, whether staff or volunteers, to undertake the important issue of security. Train these personnel how to identify potential threats and how to de-escalate potential threat situations. During services or functions, outfit the team in plain clothes.”
- “Perform a risk assessment. Where is the church vulnerable in its facility and grounds? Consider a community threat assessment as well.”
- “Implement security protocols. Consider these suggestions: 1) Lock doors after services begin; 2) Post security team members at entrances; 3) Conduct a regular, annual re-assessment of the security plan.”
- “Install security cameras. Consider video surveillance to document and record potential threats or incidents.”
- “Establish a medical response team. Mobilize medical personnel already within the congregation who can take action if injuries ever occur.”
- “Evaluate the legal parameters for security measures. Research insurance requirements and conduct a liability assessment. Identify state civil laws regarding security measures, which can vary from state to state.”
- “Create an evacuation plan. Be sure the security team knows how to best evacuate churchgoers of all ages and mobility ranges, and consider creating another key team to assist. Practice the plan through drills.”
- “Involve local law enforcement in the security plan. Tell local police departments and other emergency responders about the security plan, perhaps through an evening meeting. They may be able to offer additional suggestions or protocols.”
- “Communicate the new or existing security measures with the congregation. Members will appreciate knowing the church has a plan to keep them safe.”