Shooting at World Changers Church, Georgia

Posted by: Misti McHatton

Tagged in: Crisis Response Plan, Community Response, Church Security, Church Safety, All Hazards Preparedness

Active Shooter Preparedness

This morning, October 24, 2012, there was another single shooter incident; this time at World Changers Church in Georgia. Early reports confirm that one person (an employee of the church) was shot and killed. Police are still looking for the suspect.

We strongly encourage all churches and houses of worship to consider their course of action, and create an emergency response plan for how to handle active shooter situations in their places of worship.

What’s the Christian Response?

The first step in the Christian response should be to pray. God is the only one who can fully understand the implications of the event on the individual. Pray for his wisdom in how to minister to those around you. Pray for strength, guidance and wisdom for the responders who respond to the incident.

The next step is to care for those affected. In times of disaster, people respond in different ways. Doubt, confusion, fear, denial, and shock are just some of the emotional trauma people may experience. They may also have lost a loved one, been displaced from their home, or are questioning their beliefs and why things like this could happen.  Being a listening ear, opening up your home, giving someone a hug as they mourn, and even just empathizing with people in their time of need helps.

The final step is to share. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. Share the hope that God loves them and can relate to the pain they are experiencing. Share that Christ is the answer to their needs.

Network, Prepare and Respond as Biblically Ready Christians

With the inclusive culture and the ease of access prior to religious services, places of worship are considered “soft targets” that could be vulnerable to attack. There are steps you can take as an individual, as a church, and as a community that could help strengthen your resiliency and lessen your vulnerability as a potential soft target.

First, the process best starts by networking together with others in your family, your place of worship and your community. Know who is a regular, introduce yourself to new people and visitors, and find out who has a passion to protect your community and then work together to accomplish that goal.

The next “step” in the process is to prepare. Learn what an active shooter looks like. Identify steps that you would take if you found yourself, your family, your place of worship, or your community in such a situation. Practice your plans so that you would be ready if an incident occurs. Download our free ReadyChristian Training that will walk you through this process.

Once you are networked and have a group of people who are prepared for any given situation, the next step is to respond. By being prepared ahead of time, you will be more spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically equipped to address the needs of a given incident.

Prayer. Care. Share.

As Christians we also believe that each opportunity and step taken in preparing for and responding to an incident should include a prayer element, a care element and a share element.

Pray with each other for guidance in preparation. Show you care by helping each other through the process. And share your experiences and how God is guiding and using you in the process and to help others. The end goal is to be prepared to give an answer for the hope within you in emergencies large and small.