Church Security

“For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong doers. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.”  
Romans 13:4-5

The safety and security of the church in sight is of my primary concern.  It is for this reason that I am eager to share some insights with you and others who share my concern. The above scripture is referring to among others police officers, security officers or members of the armed forces. Some people don’t understand why security is needed in churches. However, an organized security presence around men of God has been mentioned in the Bible since Genesis. You can read about it in Genesis 14:14 through 16, where Lot (the nephew of Abram later known as Abraham) was taken captive by an army of four kingdoms.  Abram rallied his 318 trained men who were born in his household. They attacked a military camp of four kingdoms and brought back Lot, all the goods, the women, and other people.

Now the Bible does not say exactly what the men were trained to do or who trained them. But it is obvious that they were trained in combat and they were facing humanly impossible odds. This was not only an act of faith on Abram’s part but also on the trained men’s part. God told Abram earlier in Genesis 12:3 that He would bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him. This was a great victory for Abram in the natural. However, the other kings, who were enemies of the captors of Lot, knew and acknowledged to Abram and his 318 men that they alone could not have accomplished a feat like that unless God was with them. Note: Even though Abram was blessed by God, he still gathered his 318 trained men to go with him for the purpose of retrieving Lot and his possessions. Gods wants you to put your faith with your works.

“As Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17

I have been in law enforcement, security and the martial arts for over 25 years. My experience has shown me that no matter how many people you have or how much training you have, you still need God’s Blessing on you to accomplish your security goals. I believe that God gives you an assignment and then assigns other people to assist you in carrying it out. I believe God assigns someone to assist you, not because you are weak but, rather so that you can stay strong and accomplish your God given assignment.

“The thief comes only to kill, steal & destroy you.”
John 10:10

Times have changed and the world’s boundaries of crime and violence have moved from the outside of the church walls to the inside. In the past five years, there have been over 14 reported incidents in the United States where firearms were used inside churches or on the church’s property to commit violence which resulted in 30 deaths and other injuries. This is one of the four major reasons that security is necessary in the church. The four major reasons are: Criminal attacks, child predators, active shooters and terrorist groups.

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom and she will protect you, love her and she will watch over you.”
Proverbs 4:5,6

Some churches are like little cities due to their building size and the number of members that attend. These types of churches should have their own security staff or a contract with their local police department for assistance. The police cannot be at your church all-the-time, and their response time can range anywhere from two to twenty minutes, or longer. It would depend upon the calls for service in the city. The first responders, your security staff, should already be on site.

If you don’t have the current resources to hire a security staff you could start a security team from within your organization and assign them specific security tasks. Recruit them via church announcements, outreach programs, local law enforcement agencies, and church members. Look for people who are born again spirit filled believers: Those who are church members that have police or security related training and experience; those who are willing to serve with honor and integrity and don’t have a criminal history. Once you have a team or staff you must develop policies and procedures on how they will perform their duties. Make sure the policies are known and followed by the staff members.

Church security functions should be ranked in order of priority. The following list is a general guideline. However, your needs may be different and you can arrange them accordingly.

  1. Protection of life & property
  2. Emergency preparedness
  3. Crime prevention
  4. Loss prevention
  5. Fire prevention
  6. Access control
  7. Employee identification (background checks)
  8. Information security
  9. Order maintenance 
  10. Accident prevention
  11. Traffic control
  12. Arrest/prosecution
  13. Crime reporting

“Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”
Proverbs 9:9

Criminals now look at churches like any other business where there are things to steal and people to victimize. This includes the parking lots as well. With this in mind these safety tips will help to reduce the possibility of you or your church building becoming a victim of a crime:

  • When exiting your vehicle don’t leave valuable items in plain sight, secure them in the trunk or locked glove-box.
  • Lock your doors & set the alarm
  • When walking through parking lots, be aware of your surroundings.
  • If you are an employee or volunteer, keep ID badges in full view.
  • If you have controlled access doors with key pads don’t give out your PIN number.
  • Make sure the door closes securely behind you before you walk away.
  • Don’t let unauthorized persons into your building.
  • Lock the doors of your office, or if you have a cubicle lock your desk/file drawers when you leave.
  • Report all suspicious persons to your security staff or local police departments.

In closing, Church Security is about protecting God’s people--His greatest assets. If you follow these safety measures, it will reduce the risks of you or your facility becoming a victim of a crime, reduce losses, and prevent damage or injury to people or property. As much as possible do the four P’s with your security staff: Pray, Plan, Prepare and Practice. This will go along way, if or when a real emergency or major event occurs at your facility.

This article is written by Chief Reginald Phillips

Chief Reginald PhillipsDirector of Ministry of Defense, Word of Faith.