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Jun 05
2007
CEN

First Steps to a Church Safety and Security Team

Posted by: CEN

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As I consider all that I read in the papers and see on the news, I often find myself wondering, “How is the church prepared for that?”   I have heard stories how ill-prepared many churches were for the flood and storms of last year's hurricane season.   As I research the potential of bird flue and read that if a pandemic hits, how churches in impacted areas will not be allowed to gather as a group to worship.   I wonder if they are prepared for that?   Even locally, as I read of a case of sexual misconduct or a tragic van accident involving the multiple death of youth group members, I realize that most churches aren't prepared to deal with such issues in a way that keeps them from doing further harm.

As I consider all that I read in the papers and see on the news, I often find myself wondering, “How is the church prepared for that?”   I have heard stories how ill-prepared many churches were for the flood and storms of last year’s hurricane season.   As I research the potential of bird flue and read that if a pandemic hits, how churches in impacted areas will not be allowed to gather as a group to worship.   I wonder if they are prepared for that?   Even locally, as I read of a case of sexual misconduct or a tragic van accident involving the multiple death of youth group members, I realize that most churches aren’t prepared to deal with such issues in a way that keeps them from doing further harm.

Make no mistake, bad things happened to churches decades ago.   But the truth is, more lawsuits, more claims, more incidents, more crime is happening in, around, and to congregations that ever before.     Many churches have more equipment, more ministry opportunities, more people, and more money than before.   Add to that the notion that many criminals are much more aware that churches, which used to be more off-limits, are quite naïve and are easy targets.

The good news is, more and more churches have a desire to address the problem.   They have chosen to be prepared for as many emergencies as possible.   They want to be part of the solution and less a part of the problem.   Congregations, when they stop and think about it, are in a fantastic position to respond to situations that not only happen in the community and the world, but even within their own congregation.

Building the Foundation

Churches can begin the process by thinking about a team approach.   Selecting 4-8 people who will act as the Church Safety and Security Ministry Team can build long-term consistency and begin the process of getting your church to “prepared status.”     If you select construction, police, medical, human resources, and insurance-types from your congregation to form the team, they will be able to bring their expertise and experience to the team and church.

The team should then be educated and trained, and begin the process of building practices and procedures that address the wide variety of potential emergencies you may face.

Next, the team should educate and train church staff, volunteers, ushers, and members as to what their role is in the face of an emergency.   The thought here is to have many people running away from an emergency while other, trained personnel are moving toward it.   Without a plan that is practiced and communicated, this just simply won’t happen.   The other scenario will have people neither running away nor toward the problem but standing by idly wondering what they could be doing.

Once the team is selected and practices and procedures and training are in place, it is good to evaluate, continue practicing, and keep the lines of communication open.   Further, the team should have developed a positive, ongoing relationship with other local, and state emergency providers and congregations in the area to develop a response plan for the community that involves churches.   With coordination, each of the churches can take on a different component to an emergency response and together become a positive force for good.

Evaluate Now

How will you know if you’re ready for many of the emergencies that might occur within your organization or community?   The best way is to honestly evaluate what you have in place, and do not have in place.   I have developed a simple checklist for churches to help them with this process.

Further, education is a great first step.   It only takes a simple word search of the issues (e.g. church crime, church theft, church emergency, church lawsuits, etc.) to realize the enormity of the issues.   Check with your denominational officials and ask what resources they have.   After obtaining such information, if a church leader still chooses to do nothing, frankly they are being negligent and do not have the best interest of their congregation in mind.

Stated another way, protecting the people, property, resources, facilities and ministries that God has entrusted to our care is a faithful act of stewardship.   We have a responsibility to do so.  

Preparation and protection should start now in your local church.   For further information, visit the following web sites:

Ministry Continuity Solutions: www.ministrycontinuitysolutions.com
Christian Emergency Network: www.centoday.com
National Next of Kin Registry: http://nokr.org/nok/restricted/home.htm
Other sites:
•  www.redcross.org
•  www.ready.gov
•  www.fema.gov
•  www.fema.gov/kids
•  www.disastercenter.com/agency.htm
•  www.nonprofitrisk.org/training/train.htm#rˍconf
•  www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/emergencyplan/index.html


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