We can all remember the days when churches were thought of as sanctuaries. They were where we found, connected to, and worshipped God, where we grew relationships with other Christians, where we met spouses, and where we raised our kids. Church was a special place that served as somewhere to worship and a place to call home. Church activities brought congregations together in one place where everyone felt safe, secure, and happy. Unfortunately, for many people, this scenario has changed.
There has been a strong uptick in violence and attacks across the nation. From small, rural churches to large, urban ones, no church seems immune to the violence brought in from the outside. The past 20 years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of churches that have experienced armed attacks. As the numbers of attacks keep climbing, the necessity of security training becomes even more important.
What Will the Parishioners Think?
There are those who feel that having security posted at the entrance to the church is the opposite of what God might want or they may worry that it intimidates people from coming in. They feel He wants us to welcome people into our fold and that He will protect us from harm, especially when we’re in a house of worship. While this is how we would all like to feel, there are threats and dangers that lurk outside of every church and that are just waiting to get in. Even in Biblical times people posted guards, such as stated in Neh. 4:9, to protect the people. Danger to religious people is nothing new. How we respond to those dangers might need to change.
Emergency responders such as police, fire, and medical are all trained what to do in case of emergency. While it is comforting to know they are there, the reality is that in some places the response times are much too long. In the case of an active shooter, there really is no time to wait at all. The entire situation might be over before police are even on the way. Situations like this call for security trained personnel to be active and ready at all times.
Why Your Church Might be Targeted
Many people who are out to do others harm look for easy targets. It’s not often you hear of shooters going into a police department looking for trouble. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Easy targets include schools, theaters, churches, and any place that posts signs saying No Guns Allowed or that these people know their targets are likely to not be armed. This is because people with bad intentions don’t follow rules and don’t care what signs say or what people are there for, even if it’s to worship. They just aren’t playing by the same rules as the rest of us.
Yes, Your Church Needs Security Training
All churches should have a security plan in place. This means having dedicated people for designated jobs who are mentally fit and qualified to help. The best bet is to have a set group of people who will provide security and for them to let other church members know how to help in an emergency. For example, a Sunday school teacher should know how to protect the kids if the adults are trapped in the sanctuary. The head of the church should be able to recognize when to quickly lock the doors and have everyone take cover. There are simple steps that every church can take to ensure the safety of the people inside the building.
Fearing the Unknown
Every person is unique and there may be vastly different reactions to starting security training at your church. The important thing to make clear is that if your church has a plan in place, you are more likely to survive something serious. If there’s no plan in place, your church might be at the mercy of a crazed person or active shooter. Better to be vigilant and protect your flock than to not address this growing trend that is impacting churches across the country.