Unless you have been living under a rock you have heard about the recent shootings. Schools, concerts, and the church massacre in Texas.
Churches across the nation are asking the question, how do we protect our people, what should we do? Should we form a security team, encourage people to carry concealed weapons, lock our doors and strangers are not welcomed?
When a tragedy like a church shooting takes place experts (or so-called experts) will have a number of suggestions to protect your church.
Maybe in the future every Seminary will have a gun range and to be ordained you must learn to be a marksman.
There are a number of options for a church:
- Don’t do anything
- Hire a Uniformed Security Guard
- Form an armed response team
- Metal Detectors at the door (don’t laugh I had a sale person contact my office)
- Declare your church a no gun zone.
Before your church makes any decision, I would strongly suggest that you:
Contact your Insurance company. They can be an excellent resource as well as provide information about what is covered and what is not covered.
Contact your police department. They will provide you with very helpful information and will work with your church to inform you what not to do as well as what you should do. Depending on their threat assessment they may even assign an officer (in uniform or in plain cloths) to be at your church. They offer just about everything from monthly news articles to certification programs.
Find out what is legal in your state, county or city. In California, you can’t call a person a Security Guard unless they are officially trained and certified by the state. Over the past few years a number of “security ministry groups” have formed, as well as dissolved.
Things to think about:
If your church desires to form an armed response team, contact your insurance company first. There is a church in our district that formed an emergency response team and part of it consisted of an armed response. The team members included law enforcement officers (active and retired) as well as those individuals that have a CCW (concealed weapons permit). The insurance company informed the church that only active law enforcement officers would be covered under the church insurance policy.
If you do form a team do not use civilians. Unlike law enforcement officers or those who served in the military, the average person does not know what it is like to shoot and kill a person. It is very important to have the local law enforcement involved during the planning and training.
Some churches have hired uniformed security guards. What I have found in my research is it really doesn’t make people feel more secure.
There have been major shooting incidents where there were individuals who were carrying a concealed weapon but could not bring themselves to use their weapon and kill someone. The church in Texas was very fortunate that a neighbor was willing to stop the carnage that was taking place.
Be careful what and how you say things. Before the recent shooting in Texas, I was at a town hall meeting held at a church. The pastor made the statement that with the changing times and if the church wants to reach the community it may be risky for those in the church. That statement did not go well.
I encouraged him to use the words “welcoming but safe.”
Teach your people not to live in fear. The world can be a terrible place where terrible things happen. God made an everlasting promise that we should not live in fear because He is with us. This isn’t a call to do stupid things but it’s a promise of His love. We have people serving in very difficult places around the world, and you may have people in your church whose home life is difficult and scary.
As Pastor and Staff don’t panic. Think about this. There are an estimated 378,000 congregations in the United States, which means the likelihood of any congregation being involved in a shooting in any year is approximately one in 126,000 or 0.0000079 percent.