Thoughts on church security
As I was sitting in church yesterday, I pondered how I would provide security that or any other house of worship.
In recent times, the need to have security in houses of worship is become an unfortunate necessity in many places. All churches, regardless of religion or denomination, should be asking the question…
Should we have security?
A concerned church official needs only to look at a few recent incidents to know they should be asking the same question.
As I sat there thinking about the best way to provide security in that environment, it occurred to me the basis for any church security program could be found in the best practices of special events security. That being the case, one of the first security priorities would be to maintain a welcome environment; hospitality is key.
All churches, regardless of religion or denomination, since the dawn of religion, have existed to serve as places of refuge. That is why society finds church shootings so appalling.
A house of worship is supposed to be a place where people can come in peace, seeking refuge from their struggles in life, and worship God according to their beliefs. Thus, any church security program needs to make people feel safe and welcome.
Sometimes, both safe and welcome can be tricky from a security standpoint. If you think about some of the mo
st high security places in the world, they are not very “welcome” places (e.g. high-security military bases, nuclear power plants, top secret government facilities). However, those involved in security within the hospitality industry understand the balance required to have an
adequate level of security and maintain the feeling of an “open door” that places of worship require.
A good church security program requires well-trained security people that possess, above all, discretion. In addition to possessing discretion, those involved in church security also need to be able to blend in with those who attend services. No church, synagogue, mosque, or temple is likely to benefit from overt uniformed security officers who will make the congregation feel like they are in a high security facility.
A well trained security staff can blend in and maintain the level of hospitality required for a house of worship while using various subtle methods to make people feel safe. These subtle methods also send the message to those with criminal intent that this house is not the place for that kind of behavior.
There are many more ways to make those who attend services feel safe and secure while worshipping and seeking refuge from their challenges in life.
Please feel free to comment on this post. I’d love to hear thoughts and questions from those concerned with security for churches and other houses of worship.
Please note that throughout this posting I use the terms “church” and “house of worship” interchangeably and am referring to no religion or denomination in particular. I believe that all religions and belief systems have the same need and desire provide security for their congregation.