How to Prevent a Shooting and Other Security Risks at Your Church
Carl Chinn, a church security writer, researcher, and consultant, has been tracking deadly force incidents at churches since 1999. According to his findings, 2017 was the worst year for church violence with 118 violent deaths reported at houses of worship. Though statistically an active shooter is a low security threat for churches, gun violence is what makes the news and creates a ripple effect of fear among churchgoers.
With recent church shootings, many churches are taking security more seriously. “A lot of folks are struggling with the church security issue,” says Tim Miller, President of LionHeart International Services Group and Director of Security for Christ Fellowship Church, a 10-campus multisite church in West Palm Beach, Florida. “They know they have to do something, but they’re not sure what, or how to get their leadership on board. Pastors aren’t thrilled about having to enact security measures. They don’t want their church to turn into an armed camp.”
Discover doable ways to deter the most common—and the most feared—security threats at churches.
In a new resource titled, “3 Keys for Building a Secure Church,” we tapped Miller and other experts to share their insights on church security and provide doable ways to deter the most common—and the most feared—security threats at churches.
This free resource covers critical topics, including:
- How to recruit an effective security team
- What kinds of technology are available to protect your church
- How to keep kids safe at church
- How to assess your church's current security measures, and plan for your future needs
3 Keys for Facing Security Threats
“The key to church security is getting the right heart in the right team,” says Miller. “If you don’t understand the culture, security won’t go well. Make sure you assemble the right team. They may or may not need a background in law enforcement or military.”
Training is the next key to having an effective security plan. “Whatever you do, train your team first in the spiritual calling of the safety ministry, and then in the basic elements of disaster response, emergency protocols, and active threat responses," says Mark Lundgren, Mark Lundgren, also with LionHeart International Services Group, and team lead for security at Christ Church of Oakbrook in Illinois. "If you’re not sure how to do this, reach out to LionHeart ISG, the local police or fire department, or other certified trainers.”
Designing your facility with security in mind—including both the physical layout of your church facility as well as incorporating technology—is the third key to building a secure church. If you’re building a new church or renovating your building, you are in the ideal position to design for security. Churches can effectively retrofit their facilities to incorporate new technology, such as electronic keys, cameras, and more, to augment your security measures.
Keeping Kids Safe
“Security is the number one conversation churches want to have with us when we’re discussing a remodel or a building project where kids' space is addressed,” says Greg Snider, Ministry Space Strategist for Aspen Group.
The reality is, if first-time attendees bring their kids to church and they don’t feel assured that the nursery and kids’ ministry area are built with safety and security in mind, they are not likely to return.
“Our original campus has five entrances into the facility,” says Frank Pollina, facility manager at three of The Orchard’s six campuses in Illinois. “Prior to our renovations, you could enter any of these five doors and easily get to the lower level where our children’s ministry is. When we renovated, we added doors to the hallways, and now you can only get to the children’s ministry area through one location. By adding doorways in the hallways and locking off doorways to outer doors, we’ve reduced security threats. Same with our nursery. You can exit for fire safety, but no one can enter from outside.”
“We can solve many security issues by making changes to the facility,” says Snider. “But children’s ministry safety also involves having a good process, people, systems, and volunteers.”
Creating a security plan is as much about reassuring your leadership and congregation that they can operate from faith and not fear as it is about protecting your church and leading them to respond to security threats.
Though large churches and multisites face more complex security issues, every church has to confront the reality that evil exists and is sometimes perpetrated at churches, no matter the size or location. Download “3 Keys for Building a Secure Church” to learn practical, actionable ways to keep your congregation safe.