When people come together to worship, they are looking for a welcoming place where they can feel comfortable, peaceful, and safe. If something goes wrong and affects the way a congregation feels about potential outside threats, this could be detrimental to that feeling of fellowship. You can’t predict or prevent an event from happening, but you can prepare your church for emergency situations.
At ChurchPlaza, we understand that the issue of church security can feel a little overwhelming at times. Here are some tips and ideas to help improve security at a church and make staff and parishioners feel safe.
Create a Church Security Plan
Your church chairs and pews are most likely filled with good-hearted people each week. But every time that a large group of people gathers together, there are safety and health protocols that should be considered. You should have some guidelines set up so that your church staff and congregation know how to respond to any emergency situation.
Your policy and procedures should account for potential threats to your church. Consider if there are any vulnerabilities and how you can mitigate risk. A policy is a key first step to ensuring that your staff knows what to do. Things to consider accounting for in your safety policy may include:
- Will you have staff to patrol key areas of the sanctuary and outside of your church, such as the parking lot?
- How often will you practice safety procedures or conduct drills?
- How often will you test church safety equipment, like video surveillance, automated locks, an alarm system, fire alarms, and emergency lighting?
- Who will be responsible for reviewing the security plan and keeping it up to date?
Develop a Team
You can start by assigning roles. If an emergency happens in your church, who will call 911, talk to the congregation, and speak to authorities and the media? Do you have backup personnel for each of these roles? One person shouldn’t try to do all of this alone. Securing a church should be a group effort.
Maybe there are some members in your congregation who have worked in security or at the volunteer fire department or police department. You could consult with them or have them run a safety training session at your church. You could also get a professional risk assessment done for your church or have a walkthrough of the property with local law enforcement.
Regardless, make sure your staff is trained and equipped to respond in the event of an emergency.
Keep Children Safe
Even if your church doesn’t have a school or day care affiliated with it, maybe you have some church classes or youth groups. Child safety should be a top priority for your organization. You’ll want to have plans in place for:
- Vetting any job candidates or volunteers
- Training any teachers or child caregivers
- Dropping off and picking up children
Keep Audio and Visual Equipment Secure
Label any types of projectors, audiovisual equipment, TVs, and computers and lock them away when they aren’t in use. If you keep a regular inventory of any objects or equipment that go in and out of the church, it may be easier to figure out exactly when something’s gone missing.
If your insurance company has to get involved, you can provide your inventory sheet that includes brands, serial numbers, models, and prices.
Utilize Surveillance Cameras
Even if your church isn’t open to the public 24/7, it doesn’t hurt to have church security cameras set up. Even when your building is fully staffed, surveillance cameras provide extra security.
With the right equipment and lighting, you may be able to capture key evidence or prevent criminal activity from occurring.
Secure Church Computer Systems
While it’s crucial to keep your physical church facility and parishioners safe, it’s also very important to make sure that your church’s computer system and network are secure. Your computer could contain church banking information as well as contact information for your parishioners. Therefore, you should consider the following security measures:
- Configuring a firewall
- Running an anti-virus program on your computer
- Keeping computer software up to date
- Segmenting your network by creating a guest network connection
- Making sure your passwords are kept secure
- Backing up any important data and storing it safely
- Creating an information security policy
Make Sure Staff and Parishioners Feel Safe
It’s important to implement security measures and consider worst-case scenarios before there is ever an emergency. The more prepared you are with your church security plan, the better your staff and parishioners will feel.
Looking for more resources and information to create a safe and inviting worship experience?
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