Churches, by their nature, have an "open door" policy during worship services, so anyone willing to worship God and hear the good news of the gospel of Christ will be welcomed. But some who come to church may have different agendas.
Church leaders have a duty to provide protection from potentially dangerous people who may be on the premises, especially if they know ahead of time who these people are. There are two primary reasons churches need to have a plan to protect against these people. The first is the moral obligation to ensure the safety of worshipers, staff, and property. The second is to protect a church legally against lawsuits stemming from injury caused by a dangerous person.
A church cannot deal with the threat of dangerous people until it can first recognize the kinds of people who pose a threat. Someone panhandling near the church doors is probably a nuisance. A dangerous person is someone who poses—or threatens to pose— an actual danger to people or property. Dangerous types of people include:
- People with weapons.
- People who are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
- The mentally ill who act out, including people who have not taken their medications.
- Aggressive homeless people and street people.
- People with grudges, including current and former church members and staff.
- Family members embroiled in bitter child custody battles.
- People with hatred based on their religious or political views, including those who actively hate the church and Christians in general.