Whole-Church Means Everything and Everyone, All the Time.
The theme of all my material and seminars on developing church safety and security plans is this: The most effective programs consider all of the People, Places, Property, Programs and Processes of a place of worship. 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. That means that focusing only on main services or special services or the pastor or children or anything or anyone else, will not be as effective as keeping the big picture in mind. Similarly, focusing primarily on how to thwart or respond to crime, violence, active shooters, disruptive situations or assailants, is also not the complete picture of how to prevent harm.
Any realistic plans and programs can help a church be incrementally more safe and secure, of course. However, I worry when I hear someone talking about their church’s safety and security program and the main conversation is about how they have plans to respond to violent assailants or disruptive individuals. There is so much more to protecting a place of worship than that–as important as that is.
Keep the Big Picture in mind: As you develop plans or procedures for your church, synagogue or temple, please consider the very large picture of what you’re dealing with, even in a very small place of worship. There are people of all ages and conditions, activities on many days and nights, electronics, furniture, money, combustible materials, human temptations, off-site functions and a zillion other things that have or create vulnerabilities.
When you consider how to prevent problems, protect against harm, detect concerns and respond to emergencies, please look at the BIG picture. One way to do that is to have teachers, volunteers and others share the things they’ve worried about. Inspect every aspect of the church, on an ongoing basis, not just one time or in the daytime or in the summer or whatever. Talk to other churches about the things that have been problematic, frightening or resulted in harm. Do some research. Talk to your insurance company. Purposely, consciously keep the whole place of worship in mind.
Church Security Material and Seminars: Ask for my material, using the comment section or contact tab. (I don’t publish the comments for this, so no one is identified.) It’s free and every page encourages expanded thinking. Ask about sponsoring a six hour seminar or working with local law enforcement to do it–be a leader in outreach about Big Picture thinking. I don’t huckster my seminars, but they are tremendously well-received, so I like to mention them now and then.
A good way to consider your efforts is this: Which people, places, property, programs or processes matter? Those are the ones to be concerned about in your safety and security activities.