Twenty years ago when I started my career as a church business administrator and facilities director for a growing church in Phoenix, the need for incorporating a comprehensive safety and security team did not exist. Sure, I had a volunteer patrolling the parking lot during weekend services to protect the cars, but the need to protect the people just didn't exist.
Times have changed, and the idea that churches are off-limits to violence has disappeared. Today, churches have even become targets of violence.
Here are just a few examples of the change:
September 1999 - A man kills seven people, wounds seven, and kills himself at a teen service at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
March 2005 - A man opens fire at a Living Church of God service in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Eight people die, including the gunman.
February 2006 - A gunman opens fire during service at Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. He kills a woman, wounds two others, then kills himself.
December 2007 - A gunman with a high-powered rifle enters the main foyer at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. He kills three people before a member of the church's armed security staff kills him.
March 2009 - A gunman walks up to the pulpit at First Baptist Church in Marysville, Illinois, and shoots the pastor at point-blank range. When his gun jams, the killer pulls out a knife and slashes two worshipers and himself.
Reading about incidents like these over the past 10 years made me realize that I needed to be proactive and develop a safety and security volunteer force for my church.