Often a Risk Management Team will begin as WheatFields’ did—see The Case of the Church Embezzler.” The church knows something must be done, but does not know the needed scope. Experts help teams learn the enormity of their task. Jim Riggs, a retired Federal Agent, was asked to comment on WheatFields’ initial Risk Management Team meeting.

First Thoughts on Church Safety Issues

These are first thoughts for any team to consider about the scope of their role. From the position of protecting a large congregation and school like WheatFields, this is a short form.

Policy

  • Is there a policy manual addressing safety and security concerns for church and school?
  • Is child/youth safety addressed and stressed, including off-campus activities?
  • Are policies based on professional security assessments?
  • What are the policies and procedures covering emergencies in the church and school (fire, earthquake, active shooter, etc.)?
  • Does church policy address special considerations (restraining orders, custody disputes, child kidnapping concerns)?

Background Checks

  • Are background investigations performed on all staff?
  • What areas are reviewed during these background inquiries?
  • Who gathers the information?
  • Who administers the review of the investigations and determines who is fit for employment?
  • What are the criteria for disqualifying an applicant?
  • Does the screening process apply to every employee (elders, pastors, associate pastors, ministry leaders, volunteers, teachers, maintenance staff, security personnel, part time employees, etc.)?

Camera Systems

  • Does the campus have a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system?
  • Who monitors that system?

Staff Training

  • Has the staff been trained in the different methods required in reacting to different types of emergency incidents?

Safety Team

  • How does the staff communicate with each other in a crisis? How do they communicate with the security team in case of an emergency?
  • How often are emergency drills performed?
  • Are acts of violence or criminality committed at the church or school documented? 
  • Does the church have a Director of Security and a trained security team? Full time, part time, volunteers? 
  • How are the security team members selected?
  • Are they trained and equipped to handle acts of extreme violence?
  • Are security personnel provided with written policies and guidelines?
  • Is there a budget that provides for regular training aimed at improving their proficiency?

Policy Areas to Consider

  • Evacuation, shelter in place, lockdown procedures.
  • Disruptive persons, domestic violence, office intruders.
  • Active shooters; screening and intervention strategy; search and seizure authority. 
  • Emergency medical response, tactical medical trauma response.
  • Lost and missing children.

This is a Tool from the Book and Workshop on

Predators in the Church

About the Book

5 E-Books with 38 Tools

Predators bring devastation to your church and the lives of your congregants. The Predator in the Church series has over 300 total pages and will help you change your thinking about predators and take steps to prevent them:

  • The Introduction to Wolf Thinking presents an overview of the working concepts and the prevalence of predators.
  • The Case of the Wolf at WheatFields is an insider’s perspective as Executive Pastor Dan Black at WheatFields discovers a predator.
  • The Case of the Active Shooter walks through national news about the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, along with tools for church safety.
  • The Case of the Child Molester presents national news about an incident at NewSpring Church of South Carolina with tools to avert child predators.
  • The Case of the Church Embezzler documents national news stories from six churches of all sizes along with tools to prevent fraud.

May this material help avoid the painful tragedy of a predator in your church. Do all that you can to protect your people from the wolf. Author of the series is David Fletcher. For 35 years, Fletch led churches from 1,000-8,000 members, single and multisite, churches with camps, schools, apartments and cafés. His other books include People Patterns and Smart Money for Church Salaries.