Monday, July 30, 2018

Hey Fletch … With all the craziness in the world, our church is concerned about safety and security. What can you recommend?

DRF—Here is what the Federal Bureau of Investigation says: “The FBI has designated 50 shootings in 2016 and 2017 as active shooter incidents (20 incidents occurred in 2016, while 30 incidents occurred in 2017). On another page the Bureau notes, “The five downloadable graphics below reflect statistical information pertaining to the 250 FBI-designated active shooter incidents that occurred in the United States between 2000-2017.” Here is one of the graphs they present:

The Bureau asserts that 4% of the incidents occurred in houses of worship. This brings some data to the importance of your question.

On various issues, I lean into professionals who are area experts. Let me check in with Jesse Stanley who founded Strongside Principles. They do training and consulting in this area.

Jesse—Consider your team’s mission. Are you forming this team to simply secure your premises? Or, is this about safety? Do you believe there’s ministry opportunity for this team? These are the reasons to perform an assessment of your church’s particular risks and that should drive the team’s mission. Considering how to deter and react to active shooters is important, but don’t forget this: you are far more likely to encounter a medical issue than violence. Your team’s purpose, their mission, should be clear.

Then there is the church’s reputation. How do you want your church to be thought of? As a deterrent, some churches want it to be known that they have security and all the associations that word conjures. Other churches would rather be more discreet, enjoying the benefits of an effective team without flying the colors. Think about how your team will impact your attendees, visitors, and the type of person you’re looking to recruit to the team.

Concerning the purpose and name of the team, using “safety” is popular go. But some churches go with names more descriptive. “Gatekeepers” has an obvious meaning. “Nehemiah Ministries” has been used and is based on the idea of Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem. He start by building a wall meant to restore community, not eliminate it. Another idea is “Ikanos Ministries,” as ikanos is the Greek word for “sufficient” or “enough.” This is taken from Luke 22:36-38 where “ikanos” expresses the tension of security in church.