Churches are sacred places where people seek fellowship with God. So it's hard to imagine that churches are targets for thieves, vandals, and violent people who want to harm children and adults. New Life Church in Colorado Springs discovered first-hand the risks any church can face these days. A church member and the gunman died; four people were wounded in the parking lot.
Sadly, more than ever, churches, schools, and businesses are targets for criminals. Church leaders need to work harder than ever to make the sanctuary, fellowship areas, educational facilities, and other church property more secure. Violence is just one element of criminal harm in a church. Facilities also need to be secured against property theft, arson, vandalism, and child abduction.
The Right Team
Chuck Chadwick, director of the National Association of Church Security and Safety Management (nacssm.org), urges churches to form a safety communications team. "Do not form a 'security team'—that can be a misdemeanor in many states," he warns. "Red flags will be raised in licensing and insurance issues. Instead, form a 'safety communications team' using your paid staff, ushers, and lay leaders.
Chadwick suggests that this team include a church security consultant, church staff members (senior pastor, facility manager), experienced laypeople, and local law enforcement personnel. They can see points of vulnerability and think through specific security steps and the need for particular equipment.