May 7, 2018
For hundreds of years, churches were places where personal safety. The sanctuary they offer was never in doubt. However, that has changed dramatically. With multiple violent incidents at churches across the United States, pastors have security at the top of their list.
According to USA Today, since 1999 there have been 723 violent acts committed in U.S. churches, with 38 percent resulting in at least one death. And with guns, knives, bombs, and automobiles used in these incidents, it’s clear churches must make security a top priority. To learn more, here are five reasons why pastors should be thinking about church security.
Churches Welcome Everyone
Not only do churches welcome anyone, but many who enter may be dealing with depression, mental illness, or issues that could keep them from thinking clearly. Because of this, many churches now provide training to greeters and ushers as to how to spot potential problems.
Since most churches don’t have metal detectors, barriers, or security guards, they are looked at as “soft targets.” To deter potential criminals, many churches now utilize security cameras. In fact, according to protectyourhome.com, a desired feature of modern security cameras is the ability to set it to detect motion and start recording automatically on a triggered event throughout the day and night.
Only a few states prevent concealed carry permit holders from carrying onto church property, but many churches disallow carry. While a totally disarmed congregation could make your church into a soft target, there are many safety concerns that are unique to a chapel filled with churchgoers. Before deciding to permit congregation members to carry on church property, they need to undergo extensive marksmanship training and understand the principles of backstop and overpenetration.
Since churches are not occupied 24/7, they become prime areas for trespassers or loiterers. While security cameras may act as deterrents, it may be best to hire off-duty police officers or have congregation members skilled in security to patrol the parking lot and check the building for any problems.
Drugs and Alcohol
Unfortunately, when people are high on drugs or alcohol, they often take out their anger on places where they can gain easy entry, or where they know those with whom they are angry are in attendance. Therefore, just like training greeters to spot mental health issues, many churches also offer training in how to deal with those who may be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
While most churches never experience a violent incident, today’s world shows pastors in large or small churches should indeed make security their top priority.